The negativity has been building and building in recent weeks around Steve Bruce, and rightly so.
The performances have been steadily getting worse and worse and Saturday’s defeat at Crystal Palace was insipid to say the least, with us once again relying on Martin Dubravka to keep the score down against a side who until they came up against us, couldn’t hit a cows backside with a banjo.
Matt Ritchie was the only player who was prepared to speak to the press after the game on Saturday, and while the former Scotland winger has by and large been a brilliant servant on and off the pitch for us, his recent comments are, well, baffling to say the least.
Speaking about the recent poor form, Mike Ashley and the general negativity surrounding the club, here’s the full transcript of what Ritchie had to say:
“In my opinion, the owner stories are just created by the press.
“The owner is the owner and we have spent money in the last two windows.
“As a team, this is our fourth season in the Premier League now and we have had good finishes in the division.
“You can try to create scenarios or situations but there isn’t one.
“We have had good finishes in the Premier League and we will continue to try to build, raise the bar, raise standards and get better, individually and as a football club. That is what we try to do.
“The results this season have generally been good.
“We have been on some good runs and some not so good runs.
“OK, we conceded four goals at Arsenal but it wasn’t really that kind of game.
“For me, we just have to stick together, stay as we are, and win games the way we’ve been winning games this season.
“We have been a similar team for the last four years in the Premier League, so we must be doing something right.
“Speak to anyone who plays against us, and they all say we are a tough team to beat.
“It feels like longer (1 win in 9) and I know you lot like stories but it feels longer (without positive results) because we had the winter break, which we went into in good form.
“It feels like a long time (since winning a game) but that’s probably a bit misleading.
“We have just had a break which we went into on a good run of form, it feels longer than it is because we’ve had a period where we haven’t been playing games.
“It’s only two games (without picking up any points) and yes we have not performed well (in these last two games) but it won’t take long for that to change.
“We know we have got games that hopefully we can take something from.”
Of course, public criticism of the owner of the company that employs you, isn’t a wise move for anyone in any walk of life. Ritchie’s claims however, that the media are essentially making something from nothing about Mike Ashley is an absolute insult to every Newcastle fan. It really is.
The Shields Gazette ran a story last week that Ritchie, along with Shelvey had agreed a new contract in principle so he’s clearly towing the company line with that in mind, but he clearly actually believes this, as it isn’t the first time he’s said it.
Back in August while trying to convince us that Steve Bruce was the right man for the job, he was asked about Ashley again, and he said “I don’t understand the unrest, I have to be honest”.
It really does feel like the toxic environment is about to get worse, and unlike the previous two seasons, we lack a leader capable of guiding us through it.