Newcastle United star Matt Ritchie has lept to the defence of owner Mike Ashley, and some fans are not happy.
The 29-year-old has given a controversial interview to talkSPORT in which he says he does not understand the unrest at the club.
Ashley may have bought big this summer with Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin joining the club, but in the eyes of almost every Magpies supporter, the billionaire is not fit to run the club.
Ritchie said of the 54-year-old (quoted by The Chronicle): “I don’t understand the unrest – I’ve got to be honest. The club’s gone out, spent money.
“We’re pushing, trying to compete with the teams we can compete with and you have to be real.
“To compete at the top of the Premier League now is mega, mega money – I think the owner has been honest in his interviews in the press and said he can’t go and compete with them.”
Ritchie also added that he would not retract his comments about a ‘poor atmosphere’ against Manchester United at St. James’ Park last season.
£45,000-a-week player Ritchie (Spotrac) has taken an absolutely huge risk by saying what he has said and for many, his comments are totally ignorant.
Newcastle fans react
There was a small amount of support for the Englishman, but the overwhelming majority were furious to hear a player speaking seemingly without any regard for the entirety of Ashley’s stint at the club:
From a player’s point of view, Matt’s comments make sense: the team, staff and supporters giving their all. For Matt it’s all about the here and now. That’s fine, but fans see a bigger picture, ie 12 years of #Nufc being forced to operate as if it is one of the league’s minnows
— The Clocktoys (@clocktoys) 7 August 2019
He doesn’t understand unrest?! 🤦♂️ Ritchie has a short memory. This time last year he & his teammates refused to do PL media duties as couldn’t agree bonuses with Ashley. Talk of competing at top is uneducated crap I’d expect from southern media not a player. Very disappointing.
— Mark (@Mark74NUFC) 7 August 2019
Defending Ashley, when a year ago, first-team players essentially went on strike and refused to carry out media duties including pre-match walk ons for Sky/BT because the club refused to meet their demands regarding bonuses. Short memories eh Matt..?
— KTDT (@KTD89) 7 August 2019
disappointing to hear this from someone like MR. The players are either in a bubble and don’t understand what the fans have a problem with or they are complicit in #AshleyLies either way this is worrying. Calling the fans out like this is a slippery slope #NUFC #BoycottArsenal
— Rütger van Banks (@banksie1892) 7 August 2019
His first mistake is thinking Ashley’s been honest a day in his life.
— Kris (@Kris_Newcastle) 7 August 2019
— Rob Lough (@realroblough) 7 August 2019
I love Matt Ritchie, but this is nonsense. He acknowledges that Bournemouth is a smaller club than Newcastle, yet Bournemouth have consistently invested more than Newcastle on players. None of us expect to compete financially with the top 6, just Bournemouth, Villa, West Ham etc.
— Joel Errington (@JoelErrington) 7 August 2019
Disappointing but you don’t bite the hand that feeds.
It’s tough to jump on anti Mike Ashley bandwagon when he’s paying your wages. 😕
— John Potts #NUFC (@johnpottm) 7 August 2019
Matt Ritchie this summer attempting a different approach to getting himself a new contract.
Last season he refused to fulfil media duties because of a dispute over his bonus payment.
Lets see how this works out for him. https://t.co/hMij35TbDi
— Chutney (@andy_emmers) 7 August 2019
Matt Ritchie is a bit thick if he doesn’t get the unrest at the club.
He’s been here 4 years now. If you aren’t getting it by now, you never will.
I get he needs to say the usual “lets be united” PR but he went one further which just screams ignorance.
— Lee (@leerobson23) 7 August 2019