Faustino Asprilla makes perfectly clear who he thinks is to blame for Newcastle's struggles

The former Magpies forward says the players, not Mike Ashley, should be blamed as they do not care enough about the club's plight.

Former Newcastle United forward Faustino Asprilla has told Eurosport that the players are the ones who should be blamed for the club's struggles this season, not controversial owner Mike Ashley.

The Magpies are in a desperate battle to avoid relegation at the end of a miserable campaign, although they have given themselves a huge fighting chance of survival by winning eight points in the last four matches.

Fans and pundits alike have tended to place a large amount of the blame for the malaise of the North East club on Ashley’s leadership, with decisions such as the one to appoint Steve McClaren as manager having backfired hugely.

However, Asprilla, who scored 18 goals in 61 games in two years at the Tyneside club, insists that it is the players' poor attitude which has caused the club's struggles rather than Ashley's ownership.

The Colombian told Eurosport: "I know him [Ashley], I spoke to him and I met him. I always thought the problem is not the chairman or the owner. The problem, in my opinion, are always the players. He is doing everything he can to help the team, but they should be playing with more effort. I don’t think Newcastle’s problem is the owner.

"I think there are players who love this team. But I would like all the players play at a top level like I did. They should love that shirt and make sacrifices for the importance of that team.

"There are players that are not showing these feelings. Newcastle should be fighting for the title, not in relegation zone. I hope that next year they will find players who will fight."

Newcastle's victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday extended their unbeaten run to four matches and lifted them out of the relegation zone for the first time since February.

However, they have played one game more than either Sunderland or Norwich City, meaning that their fate is not completely in their hands in the final fortnight of the season.

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