Steve Bruce and Matt Ritchie come to blows in a training ground bust-up as details emerge at Newcastle United, and boy has it caused a stir.
There are claims that the manager and his player were involved in a confrontation with the Newcastle boss physically barging into him after being called a ‘coward’.
It comes with Bruce’s position under threat, with several players no longer trusting the manager, especially after he publicly blamed them for Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Wolves leaving the Magpies three points above the drop zone in the Premier League table.
Ritchie was left furious when Bruce, during his post-match interview, accused him of not passing on tactical instructions to the team with confusion before Wolves’ equalising goal.
🗣”We should stop the cross, it was a frustration, we will have to concede that one”
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce clears up the confusion during Matt Ritchie’s substitution right before they conceded the equaliser pic.twitter.com/t8ykDjBugi
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) February 27, 2021
The Daily Mail report how he phoned Steve Bruce after the game and wanted to have it out there and then, though Bruce wanted to speak to the 31-year-old at training on Tuesday… so that in it self was enough to irritate Matt Ritchie further.
After sleeping on it, the feelings seemed to have remained as assistant boss Steve Agnew made his way onto the training pitch to tell Ritchie that Bruce was ready to see him in his office, though the player refused and said he was not speaking to the ‘coward’ again.
After hearing what was said, he stormed out to confront Ritchie.
Daily Mail have been told Steve Bruce was ‘shoulder-barging’ into Ritchie but the player chose not retaliate physically. The 60-year-old was allegedly infuriated by Matt Ritchie calling him a ‘coward’ and said to him: ‘After all I’ve done for you.’
“He hasn’t told Jacob Murphy anything.”
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 1, 2021
Sources say Ritchie, who was given a new contract in 2020, replied by saying: ‘You’ve done f*** all for me,’ before telling Bruce he was a ‘coward’ and that he was ‘done’ with him.
Bruce is then understood to have said: ‘What are you going to do? Tell Lee Charnley?’
Assumed to be in reference to Bruce’s suspicion that players have reported their unhappiness to the managing director with Charnley then appearing at the training ground on Wednesday.
After watching on, teammates are reportedly siding with Ritchie and that there is a growing feeling of resentment towards Bruce in the dressing room which could see them lose fight and sent back down to the Championship.
The players were ‘disgusted’ when news of Karl Darlow being dropped appeared in the media a week ago, something that came before the goalkeeper had been informed, and they reckon it was Bruce who leaked the news.
Bruce told Darlow that he was not playing on Friday, which was 72 hours after the story was published, and the keeper challenged him on the press report with Bruce then denying leaking it.
One source said: ‘There has long been an inquest into who has been leaking stories from the training ground and the manager has stood back and watched players and staff accuse each other, yet he is the biggest leak of all. Most of the players do not trust him and do not like him.’
Understandably, there are several players who want new assistant boss Graeme Jones, a much more vocal manager, to take charge until the end of the season, that he represents their best chance of avoiding relegation.
Bruce, it is claimed, even told some players that he thought Jones was to blame for the tactical mix-up that led to Wolves’ goal. This spread among the squad on Tuesday and was met with a response of, ‘It’s never his fault’.
There has also been anger over Jonjo Shelvey, who gave an interview on a podcast last week praising Bruce.
A source said: ‘It did not go down well among the players. They are saying Jonjo looked like a hostage in the video, as if he was being forced to say it.’
Some players are now taking the piss and mocking the manager’s comments in WhatsApp groups, especially on doing things ‘his way’ after 18 months in charge.
Bruce also took a swipe at defender Jamal Lewis, goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and striker Joelinton.
Newcastle, Bruce and Ritchie did not wish to comment. However, it is understood that Ritchie apologised to staff and players at the training ground on Wednesday.
Fans reacted as Steve Bruce and Matt Ritchie come to blows in training ground bust-up…
Rafa seeing Steve Bruce has LOST the dressing room!!!!!!!!🙂 pic.twitter.com/U9gIKBooT8
— Rafa Fans #BRUCEOUT (@FactsRafa) March 3, 2021
— Dell 💦 #BruceOut (@agbnufc_) March 3, 2021
@DaveSMorton: Damning. As hopeless a manager I’ve seen at SJP in 40-odd years as a supporter. The whole thing is rotten to the core. If he stays, the Championship beckons.
@FootyBeers: The maddest thing about this is we played Saturday night but Bruce didn’t have them back in for training til Tuesday. In the middle of a relegation battle?! #NUFC
@Stevend1Dixon: Hope someone’s taking a “coward” banner to the training ground in the morning to welcome Steve to work
@ToonFan14: You fucking tell him, Ritchie
@CrierToon: Great article. Bruce has alienated the fans, the press (apart from his mate Edwards) and the players. It’s only heading one way but Ashley asleep at the wheel, as usual. Fans have been saying it for months
@carl_greener: Great news this! Fair play Ritchie. About time someone pulled him up on his “never my fault” narrative. Pushes him closer to the door. When we lose at West Brom (& I really think we will) surely then he has to go.
@cje1874: Who’s surprised by this? Not #avfc fans. Thats for sure. #nufc
@NUFCThreatLevel: Signs of fight in them.. There’s a start.
@HoltzvonHoltzer: This is much worse than a bust up with the Longstaffs or ASM. Ritchie is a leader in the dressing room, a senior pro respected by other players. How can Bruce come back from this..
@BrowellPeter: Relegation beckons what an utter shambles man!
@Seanmcgowan1992: He needs to go simple as that. Lost the dressing room. The players now need to play for the fans not bruce
@Kenonufc: And the NUFC soap continues!
@Margeandrews20: “But but but he’s just as good as rafa and a canny good bloke” Get the fuka out my club
@soneilluk: Its the continued line “the hierachy will stick by him” which just baffles me! Why? Can anyone find out? Do they want the club relegated. We have all known for years they no nothing about football, but sticking with this bluffer is staggering.
@SeanReesNUFC: He has to get sacked now like. Enoughs enough
More reaction continued on Matt Ritchie and Steve Bruce…
@Iam_Wry: If he had the slightest bit of self respect he would resign. If the club had the slightest bit of ambition they would sack him
@NUFC1916: Ritchies best performance this season, go on lad
@PhilipLynn4: Sack him tomorrow or we are done for.
@Callum_carr94: Still doing a “good job” lads? @RobbieSavage8 @jjenas8 #nufc
@ToonGenie: Its clear Bruce’s position is untenable, and using physicality against a 5’7″ player when you’re 6 foot and 50 stone is disgusting…. #Shambles #NUFC #BruceOut
@The_GeordieFox: This has to be the end of that ball bag. Us fans have known for months Steve Boooo! ce lost the players ages ago. If that prick tried intimidating me, he’d have his face broken. “Nice guy” eh? He’s a fucking cowardly scumbag that shirks responsibility #NUFC #BruceOut
@CalumVert2: Get him fucking gone man he’s clueless
@AVFCCharlie: Steve Bruce doing Steve Bruce things. Pissing off a whole squad and not taking any proportion of the blame.
@cieranhogg: Surely that’s the beginning of the end for the cabbage
@danlaidler_: If anyone wants to understand the shitshow of this club- read it
@mc_chug: But according to most London based pundits and talk sport shit heads Steve Bruce is a nice guy with fantastic man management skills
@face_sack: We’ve all seen this bubbling over for months. I’d say it goes back as far as the schar comment saying “we’re shit” #NUFC #BRUCEOUT
@macevro: What a catastrophic mess. The toon need to get rid before it’s too late.
@soulie94: Absolutely the worst manager in my 26 years of supporting my football club. Get out you horrible bastard.
@MichaelNUFC_: RITCHIE YOU FUCKING BEAUTY