There is some very troubling news emerging from Newcastle United this evening. The Mail is reporting that Steve Bruce and Matt Ritchie were involved in a physical confrontation during Wednesday’s training session.
The incident seems to stem from Bruce’s comments about tactical instructions after the Wolves draw when Bruce said the following:
“The directions, which unfortunately, Matty didn’t get them on quick enough – the instructions of how we were doing it. When you look at the goal, we should stop the cross. When the goalkeeper looks at it again probably he’ll think, could I have done better?
“It was a frustration for all of us. We’ll have to concede that one and make sure our instructions, we’ll do it from the sideline.”
According to Craig Hope’s report, Ritchie took umbrage with Bruce’s comments and wanted to speak to the manager immediately. However, Bruce sent word to the winger that he would speak to him during training, which is said to have infuriated Matt Ritchie.
Ritchie has also been frustrated with his lack of game time and Bruce blocking a move back to Bournemouth in January. When training started, Ritchie received instruction to meet Bruce in his office, which the 31-year-old refused to do, calling Bruce a coward in the process. This slight reached Bruce who reportedly went to the pitch to confront Ritchie.
The report is that Bruce lost his cool and ‘shoulder barged’ into Ritchie, with the player not responding physically. Words were then exchanged before things settled down.
If this report is accurate, and it goes into some other deeply disturbing territory involving Karl Darlow and Graeme Jones, then Bruce has lost this team and needs to be removed with immediate effect for the sake of the club.
We need to hear a full account before making any definitive conclusions as this journalist has been wrong in the past. However, this is another blight on this great club at a time when everyone should be rowing in the same direction.