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Newcastle United star comes out in spirited defence of Mike Ashley, yet again

7 months ago
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Mike Ashley is now seeing the impact his lack of ambition and poor decisions have brought about.

The ridiculous luck Steve Bruce has enjoyed this season is fading badly and Newcastle are now on a run of nine Premier League matches with only one victory, the very fortunate 1-0 against Chelsea.

The football is getting ever worse to watch and no team has scored less than NUFC’s 24 in 27 matches.

The transfer policy Mike Ashley has forced through after getting rid of Rafa Benitez has been disastrous.

Recruiting perma-crock Andy Carroll as a PR stunt, still nobody understands why the owner insisted on his £43m purchase of one PL goal Joelinton, Krafth isn’t Premier League level and ASM is the only summer 2019 buy with any potential. To make matters worse, Mike Ashley refused to allow any strikers/goalscorers to be recruited in January and blocked buying any players, instead recruiting three unfit loan players who have hardly played this season and won’t be signed permanently.

Despite this, after a terrible team performance and defeat to Palace, Matt Ritchie has launched a spirited defence of Mike Ashley and what he has done.

The player saying: ‘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.’

It is of course less than three years ago when Newcastle were still playing Championship football after Mike Ashley had relegated NUFC for a second time in eight PL seasons.

As for spending money in the last two windows, well nobody was bought in January and whilst there was a net spend of around £33m in summer 2019, it was far below the £61m Lee Charnley had stated was available. Plus it came after a season when Rafa Benitez was refused any net spend, the 31 January 2019 arrival of Almiron only pretty much cancelling out the £20m+ profit made on transfers in summer 2018.

Matt Ritchie has previous form of course, a number of times he has been more than willing to come out and speak up for Mike Ashley and his running of the club. One of those was on the eve of this season when the player turned up on a club-arranged appearance on Talksport (see below) saying: ‘I don’t understand the unrest I have got to be honest. The club has gone out, we have spent money, we are pushing. I think the owner has been honest in his interviews…’

Ritchie was making out that it was the fans and not the owner who were being unreasonable, suggesting that Newcastle fans were deluded and thinking they should be competing at the top.

This time, Matt Ritchie reckons Newcastle went into the recent break in ‘good form’, the reality was that whilst it was two draws in the Premier League, they were arguably two of the very worst performances of the season. A terrible showing at Everton with ridiculous luck (Lejeune’s two injury time goals after not a single shot on goal in normal time) getting a 2-2 draw, then an abysmal 0-0 draw against Norwich where yet again Newcastle were so lucky not to lose and embarrassingly Steve Bruce said afterwards, he had sent his team out to be ‘difficult to beat’ against the rock bottom team at home.

The PR spin from Matt Ritchie is embarrassing, he is one of our more committed players generally on the pitch but that doesn’t excuse the pro-Ashley propaganda.

Ritchie says ‘We conceded four goals at Arsenal but it wasn’t really that kind of game’, which is quite valid as maybe 2-0 would have been the fair result. However, to then not acknowledge how lucky Newcastle have been so many other times isn’t fair, if Steve Bruce and his team didn’t deserve a 4-0 at Arsenal, they certainly deserved it (or worse) at Palace.

Difficult to not think that this club needs a massive clearout, from Mike Ashley through Charnley, Bruce and then indeed many of the players. Ashley’ poison has spread down and the mindset within the club is now that of thinking surviving in the top tier is some great achievement and that fans are wrong to expect ambitions to be set any higher.

Matt Ritchie:

“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.

Asked about only one win now in last nine Premier League matches…

“It feels like longer 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.”

The Mag – 7 August 2019:

Matt Ritchie has given an ‘interesting’ interview ahead of the new season.

The winger/wing-back saying that everybody has to pull together this season.

Nothing wrong with that, he is a player and wants the team/club to do well.

However, he has crossed a line with other comments.

Bearing in mind all interviews with players have to be sanctioned by Ashley’s people first, when Matt Ritchie turns up on the owner’s favourite radio station defending Mike Ashley, you have to question how he has ended up doing this interview and saying what he says.

Matt Ritchie declares ‘I don’t understand the unrest I have got to be honest’, I’m sorry but surely he isn’t that thick as to not understand why fans aren’t happy with this chaotic and potentially disastrous summer, whether they are going to still go to games or not, the vast majority of supporters share the same view of what has gone on.

The player states ‘I think the owner has been honest in his interviews…’ and when speaking about fan unrest, Matt Ritchie says that it is unrealistic to compete financially with the very top teams. He can’t honestly believe that this is what fans expect and are unhappy  about it not happening?

He could have talked about the fans who turn up on Sunday getting behind the team but absolutely no need to be talking about the politics of the club and Mike Ashley.

He is an ok player who tries very hard but Matt Ritchie is very lucky to be playing for a club like Newcastle United, playing in front of an average of 51,000+ in the second tier.

He compares the situation to Bournemouth when he was there and says about all of them pulling together. He left them in the Premier League to come to Newcastle in the Championship and said at the time because we are a much bigger club and that is why he came.

Yes Newcastle have bought two players but the net spend is still only around £25m this summer and this was after Mike Ashley promised there was £61m to spend plus whatever came in from sales. This follows over three years under Rafa Benitez when there was only a few million in net spend over that entire period.

Last summer Newcastle made a £20m+ profit on deals, whilst last season Bournemouth had a £62m net spend.

Since 2015/16, Bournemouth have had a net spend of £175m (source Transfermarkt) and they get crowds of 10,000 and have a far smaller turnover than Newcastle.

Including this current window, Bournemouth have signed 10 players for over £10m since 2017/18. In the same time it took until 31 January for Newcastle to sign one, when Almiron arrived.

Matt Ritchie says he wants everybody to pull together but by going against the fans and needlessly winding things up by praising Mike Ashley, he has done the exact opposite.

At the end of the day we pay his wages and Ashley put season tickets up yet again this summer. Out of touch…doesn’t even touch it with Matt Ritchie.

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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