Newcastle United midfielder Matt Ritchie has revealed his surprise at fan happiness over their summer.
Fans of the Magpies are reportedly planning to boycott their Premier League opener against Arsenal on Sunday in protest against the way the club is being run.
Why are Newcastle fans unhappy? Five things to know…
- Newcastle fans have been unhappy with owner Mike Ashley for years.
- Ashley has often failed to put enough money into the club to allow them to progress.
- There had been some minor light with Rafael Benitez in charge.
- But the Spaniard decided against signing a new contract in the summer as the club did not share his vision.
- Benitez was replaced by Steve Bruce, while Ashley remains unable to sell the club.
This summer has seen Newcastle lose manager Rafael Benitez and last season’s star players Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon, with the latter following his boss to Chinese club Dalian Yifang.
Shortly after his departure, Benitez revealed his decision not to sign a new contract with Newcastle was due to those at the top not sharing his vision for the club.
Benitez was replaced by Steve Bruce, a decision which only added to Newcastle fans’ already-high disliking of owner Mike Ashley.
But Ritchie, who created more chances than any other Newcastle player in the Premier League last season (60), believes fans must be a bit more realistic with their aims.
“I don’t understand the unrest, I’ve got to be honest,” he told talkSPORT.
“The club has gone out and spent money, we’re pushing and 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.
“The owner has been honest in interviews in the press and has said he can’t go and compete with them. He’s been up front about that and to do that he’d have to sell the club.”
After breaking their transfer record for the first time in 15 years in January with Miguel Almiron, Newcastle did not wait too long to do it again. Joelinton, who joined for a reported £40m is one of five new signings at St James’ Park this summer, following Kyle Scott, Jake Turner, Jetro Willems and Allan Saint-Maximin.
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Ritchie pleads for fans to get behind Newcastle
Despite the expectancy that Newcastle fans will boycott Sunday’s home game against Arsenal in their droves, Ritchie has pleaded with the Toon Army to back the team this season.
“For me, we all have to be in this together,” he added.
“There has been unrest ever since I arrived at the club and the main thing I took from Bournemouth, and I know it’s a smaller club, but everyone was pulling in the same direction, with the same philosophy and mentality and desire to help one another.
“That’s what we need to be here; the fans, the staff and the players all as one and pulling in the same direction. That’s something I’m really passionate about.
“I feel if we’re all this in this together we can be a lot stronger.
“We need to fans to support the team and be with us.
“Last season we played Manchester United 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.
“Obviously performances on the pitch change how the fans see it, and it’s down to us players to make the atmosphere good, but from the word go on Sunday we need everyone together.
“The atmosphere at St James’ can be fantastic, but it needs to be positive. There needs to be a positive vibe.”