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Opinion

The Matt Ritchie debate – What he could/should have said explained

1 month ago
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We were hit with a bit of a curve ball on Wednesday by Matt Ritchie.

The Newcastle United winger talking about the challenges that await this coming season.

However, the NUFC player also straying into the toxic club politics.

The comments that he made on Talksport are below, comments which appeared to annoy/upset the majority of Newcastle fans, though a number of supporters took a different view.

These are a few of the comments made by Newcastle supporters on Twitter:

“Think it’s incredibly harsh to have a go at Matt Ritchie for his comments. You can’t exactly go on the radio and call your employer a c..t.”

“Ritchie isn’t going to come on national radio and say a bad word about his employer.”

“All those slagging Matt Ritchie off need to give their heads a wobble man, acting as if they would publicly slag their boss off.”

So who is right?

Well I think everybody is right, up to a certain point.

These people saying that Matt Ritchie can’t go on radio and slag Mike Ashley off, well of course he isn’t going to do that and nobody expects him to.

However, that isn’t really the point though, is it.

This isn’t a case of only two options to choose from: either Matt Ritchie saying Mike Ashley is fine and he doesn’t understand why Newcastle are unhappy, or the NUFC player/employee slagging off his boss and backing the fans with their protests.

There is a massive middle ground that Matt Ritchie could have occupied, a space which pretty much every single player, of every single club – including  Newcastle United, has occupied this summer and every other previous summer.

There is no need to comment about the owner, the politics, the unrest.

Matt Ritchie could/should have done what every other Newcastle player has said this summer, talk about pre-season preparations, looking forward to the new season, training is great, impressed with new manager/head coach and so on.

Even if directly asked about Mike Ashley, Matt Ritchie could have just replied with an answer about the actual football. He doesn’t have to express an opinion about the owner, or whether fans are right/wrong to protest.

Of course the really comical comment was when Matt Ritchie declared ‘I don’t understand the unrest I have got to be honest.’

If he didn’t speak/understand English and had suddenly been signed from the other side of the world and just stepped off a plane…but after three years at this mental club, Ritchie is well aware of the many reasons as to why fans are unhappy and have been for so many years.

If you still had any doubts, just look at the action Matt Ritchie and other senior players took a year ago. Unhappy with Mike Ashley, they went on strike and refused to carry out media engagements until the owner agreed to their bonus demands. That wasn’t a one-off either, as back in 2017 it was exactly the same, Ritchie and the rest of the squad in a stand-off with Ashley, bonuses only agreed a month into the season.

Matt Ritchie speaking to Talksport:

“I don’t understand the unrest I have got to be honest.

“The club has gone out, we have spent money, we are pushing.

“We are trying to compete with the teams that we can compete with and you have to be real.

“To compete at the top of the Premier League now, is mega mega mega money.

“I think the owner has been honest in his interviews in the press and said that he can’t go and compete with them and he has been up front with that. And to do that he would have to sell the club.

“For me, we have to all be in this together.

“I have said since I arrived at the football club there has been unrest a little bit.

“The main thing I take from Bournemouth is that, it is a smaller club I know, but everybody was pulling in the same direction, with the same philosophy, the same mentality and desire to help one another.

“That is what we need to be here – the fans, the staff and the playing staff, all as one. Pull in the same direction.

“That is something I’m really passionate about, we are all in this together.

“We need the fans to support the team and be with us.

“We played Manchester United last season at home and I got a bit of stick after the game because I said the atmosphere wasn’t great – but  I don’t retract what I said because it was how I felt.

Certainly after that period of games, the fans obviously with performances on the pitch changing how the fans see it.

“The atmosphere around the stadium, it is down to the players to make the atmosphere good but from the word go on Sunday we need everyone together.”

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