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Ex-Newcastle captain Nolan defends Ashley over Benitez split

Former Newcastle United captain Kevin Nolan has defended owner Mike Ashley over the departure of former manager Rafa Benitez.

The ex-Toon midfielder believes that Ashley's first priority is to sell the club, but he had given Benitez adequate resources to stay in the Premier League.

Nolan told TalkSPORT: "You can't fault Mike. I feel for the fans, and I feel for Mike as well.

"It's crazy because being a player and knowing Mike and also being close to the fans, I feel torn because I know exactly how hard he is trying to give the Newcastle fans what they want.

"When he first went he had great intentions of putting Newcastle back on the map and obviously he's lost that now and he wants to sell it, he wants to get out.

"But he's still be able to finance the club and make sure everything is running smoothly. You go up there and it's a fantastic club and what he's done within the ground is fantastic.

"The fans want a sale, Mike wants a sale and when that happens everyone will be happy – Mike as well."

Nolan added: "The whole Rafa Benitez thing, I think he knew what he was going into when he first walked into that club. Mike is not one to move the goalposts.

"I think Rafa has done quite well in working the media in terms of the way he feels and what he wants.

"But Mike is a businessman; he's stubborn and he wanted to do it his way.

"I'm sure Mike will give money to the manager who is coming in.

"It's one thing he did with Rafa – if he was able to sell I think he was given the money.

"And although he is not going to be investing heavily, I think they've got a squad good enough to be in the Premier League. That's the most important thing for Mike, to keep them there so he can get this sale across and they can move on and Mike can move on as well."

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Paul Vegas

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