Kevin Nolan, who was idolised by Newcastle fans during his time at the club, has enraged those same fans with a bizarre defence of Mike Ashley in a talkSPORT interview.

The player, who made a hero of himself with a hat-trick against Sunderland, claimed people “can’t fault Mike Ashley” in what can only be described as an unofficial interview for the vacant manager’s role.

If that was his intention, he will have done himself no harm by defending the maligned owner, who likes nothing more than to receive public flattery and praise.

He told the station: “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.

“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.”

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Quite how Nolan thinks fans cannot fault a penny-pinching owner who, during his tenure, has overseen two relegations, allowed Rafa Benitez to leave, sacked a player with cancer, admitted lying to fans and disrespected club legends Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan, is flabbergasting.

As for his “fantastic” work with the stadium… plastering it with his own brand’s name on every available space for a pittance of payment to the club? Yeah… fantastic!

As if Nolan’s initial comments were not bad enough…

And it got worse, as the former Toon skipper 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.”

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

There are so many untruths in that, it would take too long to dissect. But to say Ashley gave Rafa money from player sales is ignorance personified.

Has he not seen the net spends over the seasons Rafa was in charge? A few minutes of simple research before letting loose with such ludicrously disrespectful, inaccurate comments could have saved him from this total embarrassment.

Newcastle fans are rightly up in arms at him, and we have picked out a few of the reactions on Twitter:

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