Matt Ritchie has admitted that fan unrest earlier in the season did affect the atmosphere at St James’ Park, speaking to TalkSPORT.
The takeover debacle rumbled on once again this season, as Mike Ashley failed in his efforts to sell the club.
The lack of investment in the squad was telling at times, resulting in fans getting more and more annoyed at Ashley’s ownership of the club.
Limited money spent combined with the treatment of Rafael Benitez brought Newcastle fans to boiling point, with campaigns set up by fan groups to put pressure on the Sports Direct tycoon.
The anger from fans was brought into St James’ Park, and it became quite a poisonous atmosphere once things started to go wrong on the pitch.
Ritchie understands fans’ anger
“I understand the frustrations but, at the same time, it did start to affect the atmosphere around the stadium,” he told TalkSPORT.
“That’s no criticism towards the fans because they’ve been fantastic and I understand the unrest. But support is what the team needs.”
Ritchie is right. St James’ Park has not been a nice place to be at times this season, but that is not the fans’ fault.
The atmosphere was a result of Ashley’s ownership, and St James’ Park was a place where supporters could aim their anger at him.
Ritchie has played it smart. He hasn’t condemned the owner, his boss effectively, but he hasn’t left the fans in the lurch either. The 29-year-old can clearly see why fans were, and still are, angry. But at the same time, it isn’t the players’ fault.
Fortunately, things have massively improved on the pitch. The atmosphere at home has been brilliant in recent weeks, with Newcastle recording five home wins in a row.
Ritchie was the hero on the road on Saturday, with a stunning volley securing a late point against his former team Bournemouth.