'I don't think he got the respect he deserved': Newcastle United player delivers verdict on Steve Bruce

Matt Ritchie says Newcastle United can “kick on” under Steve Bruce – with the support of the club’s fans.
Matt Ritchie.Matt Ritchie.
Matt Ritchie.

A 94th-minute goal gave Bruce’s side a 1-0 win over Chelsea at St James’s Park on Saturday.

And the 12th-placed club now has 29 Premier League points ahead of tomorrow night’s game against Everton at Goodison Park.

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Fit-again Ritchie – who had two ankle operations on the ankle he injured in August – came off the bench in the 12th minute after Jetro Willems suffered what Bruce described as a “horrendous” knee injury.

Steve Bruce. (Pic: Martin Swinney)Steve Bruce. (Pic: Martin Swinney)
Steve Bruce. (Pic: Martin Swinney)

"Adrenaline got me through,” said Ritchie, who kicked a corner flag into the crowd after Hayden’s goal. “I didn't expect to come on so early.

“You've got to be ready to come on. It's disappointing for Jetro to get the injury. It's been tough when you've been out injured, but I'm fit and healthy, and the team's in a good position, so hopefully we can kick on.”

Bruce’s appointment as Rafa Benitez’s successor was met with a lukewarm reception on Tyneside. Ritchie, however, was keen to work with Bruce, a manager he believes deserves “respect”.

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"I don't think he got the respect he deserved when he came to the club, but the proof is in the pudding,” said the winger. “He's leading us, and we're having some success. That's down to the group and the manager and everyone involved in the football club. We win together and we lose together.”

Bruce’s name was chanted at St James’s Park for the first time last week when Newcastle beat Rochdale 4-1 in an FA Cup replay.

"The best thing is for everyone to be together pulling in the same direction for the club,” said Ritchie. “The club will have a better feeling if everyone is like that, together. I feel it's certainly going in the right direction."

The team inherited by Bruce has been pulling together all season, according to Ritchie.

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"The character's brilliant,” said Ritchie. “We've been fantastic all season as a whole, the shape, the desire to keep a clean sheet.

“We get up the pitch, Joey gets a corner, and we score from the second phase of that. The character of the team shone through.”