Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley was full of praise for his side's achievement in finishing tenth in this season's Premier League, while also hitting out at critics who have labelled Newcastle 'a Championship side'.
Speaking after the Magpies' stunning 3-0 win over Chelsea at St James' Park on Sunday, and quoted in the Daily Mail, Ashley said: "'I would like to thank Rafa Benitez for his magnificent achievement this season. I would also like to applaud the players, led fantastically by the captain Jamaal Lascelles."
On a less positive note, he added: "On many occasions throughout the season they have been described as a Championship side, which I personally consider to be derogatory."
FULL TIME Newcastle United 3-0 Chelsea— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 13, 2018
Simply magnificent. One of the performances of the season by the Magpies as Dwight Gayle's opener and an Ayoze Pérez brace secure all three points at a rapturous St. James' Park.
Reaction to come at https://t.co/iDkcawZlBb. pic.twitter.com/QwocHvfKT3
What he failed to acknowledge was that manager Rafael Benitez himself is convinced that Newcastle urgently need to reinforce their squad in order to consolidate their Premier League status and make progress next season.
Ashley also hit out at the way he has been negatively portrayed in the media, while promising that he will provide Benitez with all the transfer funds he needs.
"Rafa, as always, has my full support, and contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him," said Ashley, who also insisted: "I hope very much that Rafa will remain at Newcastle United."
More absolute lies from Ashley . Very suspicious of the timing of this statement - is it to soften #nufc fans up so that we don’t think too badly of Ashley if Rafa leaves? #Ashleyout #MIkeAshleyOut pic.twitter.com/YnthZvKAY4— Chloe Ingram (@chloeingram) May 13, 2018
The Newcastle owner went on to thank the fans for 'their unrivalled support of Rafa and the team throughout the season', but it's doubtful that many of them feel similarly grateful to him.
The Magpies faithful have frequently slammed Ashley for showing a lack of ambition for their side and not providing adequate transfer funds - even before Benitez joined the club in 2016.
Moreover, Ashley's pledge to provide the manager with 'every penny generated by the club' will likely be greeted with extreme scepticism, as the owner said almost exactly the same thing after last season, when Newcastle earned promotion to the Premier League.