The leak in Newcastle United’s camp will be a huge worry for Magpies’ boss Steve Bruce heading into the business end of the Premier League relegation battle.
That is the verdict of Sky Sports’ Gillette Soccer Saturday panel of Ally McCoist, Joleon Lescott, Tim Sherwood and Paul Merson who have urged Bruce to use it to adopt a siege mentality heading into a vital stage of the Premier League season.
The report also suggested there was a ‘growing feeling of resentment’ towards the United boss from his players and while Bruce has confirmed his ‘bust-up’ with Ritchie did take place, he has labelled the rest of the report ‘absolute rubbish’.
Bruce was left to bat away those suggestions in Friday’s pre-match press conference and, understandably, the rift in the Magpies’ camp, as well as a potential leak in the squad, has garnered a lot of attention ahead of Sunday’s trip to West Brom, in what is a huge clash at the bottom of the Premier League table.
Newcastle head to the Hawthorns just three points clear of the bottom three after a run of just two wins in their last 17 matches. Indeed, the 19th placed Baggies can move within six points of Newcastle with a win on Sunday.
So after a chaotic week on Tyneside, the Soccer Saturday panel were left to discuss the situation at Newcastle, the Ritchie fall-out, player leaks and how it will affect them in the relegation battle.
Here is a full transcript of their conversation:
Jeff Stelling: “Newcastle have been in the papers this week more than Meghan and Harry. Is somebody deliberately undermining Steve Bruce?”
Ally McCoist: “It looks that way, Jeff, but what I would say is that I think Steve Bruce is still in charge of the operation at Newcastle but I am not sure Harry is in charge of his operation with Meghan!
“Looking at the situation, I worry for Brucey. The actual argument with Matt Ritchie, I couldn’t care less. These things happen and we have seen it a hundred times. It happens every day at every training grounds up and down the country. That is not the problem.
“It looks to me as if a story is coming out of the dressing room then they are not all singing from the same hymn sheet. With the predicament Newcastle are in, they have to all be singing from the same hymn sheet because they are in a dogfight.
“I really worry for them because they have massive injuries at this stage of the season to key players and they need to perform as a team, a group, as a unit and they have to be united if they are to have any chance of saving themselves from relegation.
“It looks as though he is getting knifed from inside the dressing room and that is a big concern. It will be a massive concern.
“The fact somebody is running away and telling stories – that is…