'Everyone is laughing' - Micah Richards expresses sympathy for 'toxic' Newcastle
Micah Richards has admitted that he feels sorry for Newcastle United fans amid ongoing negativity surrounding the club.
The Magpies face a must-win clash against West Brom in the Premier League this weekend, but much of the attention in the build-up to that match has been focused on a heavily-publicised training ground bust-up between manager Steve Bruce and winger Matt Ritchie.
The news made headlines earlier in the week, and led to Bruce branding the leak in his camp as “wholly disgusting” during an interview with talkSPORT on Friday.
Reflecting on a manic week on Tyneside in his column for the Daily Mail, Richards expressed his sympathy for the Toon Army’s fanbase, harking back to his fonder memories of the club.
He said: “I grew up watching Les Ferdinand, Rob Lee, Faustino Asprilla, David Ginola, and Alan Shearer. Newcastle, as I most enjoyed seeing them, were a club who were all about fun, good times and entertainment.
"Now it feels almost toxic there and I have huge sympathy for the fans.
“They must sometimes feel like everyone is laughing at them, that every piece of bad news is another sign of how bad the club has become. It isn't right, it isn't fair on them and they have the added challenge of fighting relegation without their four best players: Fabian Schar, Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson.
“Wilson's loss, in particular, is huge. He's scored 10 goals this season that have led directly to nine of Newcastle's 26 points. You take a figure of such importance out of a team and it's going to have an impact.
“When injuries are mounting, the last thing a manager needs is unrest. As soon as fractures in a squad of this nature emerge, it is very difficult to heal.
"Bruce has to create an environment where there is trust. It is vital he releases the tension. Newcastle's survival depends on it.”
Newcastle are currently three points outside of the relegation zone, and could slip into the bottom three this weekend if they lost to West Brom and if Fulham cause an upset against out-of-form Liverpool.