Newcastle United legend Lee Clark reacts to squad bust-up and leak - and has this warning for under-fire Steve Bruce
Lee Clark isn’t concerned by the bust-up involving Steve Bruce and Matt Ritchie but warns Newcastle United need to start winning games fast.
The United duo clashed at the club’s Benton training base last week after Bruce, in his post-match interview, blamed Ritchie for not passing on tactical instructions during the 1-1 draw against Wolves.
Indeed, the animosity between the pair boiled over in the build-up to the West Bromwich Albion game last Sunday. However, Ritchie has since apologised and Bruce insists the situation has been resolved.
Clark, who worked as a player and coach on Tyneside, says squad bust-ups are “normal.”
He told the Gazette: "The bust-up scenario happens in full-time, part-time and Sunday league football – it happens often.
“What you’ve got is, you’ve got 30 people all motivated and if things don’t work out the way certain people want, they get unhappy. That’s nothing.
"You get a leak in every club and you’ll find that every single day – stories of bust-ups and stories of people clashing, whether that’s players coming together on the training pitch when they’re being competitive because they’re all fighting to try and impress the management.
"Or, it could be a disagreement between the staff and a player. The bust-up doesn’t bother me to be honest, that’s normal.
"I don’t know the full ins and outs of it but it wasn’t something that worried me, it’s quite normal really.”
Ritchie was left on the bench as Newcastle played out a bore 0-0 draw at the Hawthorns in their fight against Premier League relegation.
Bruce insisted he was happy with a point, though that was before Fulham earned a shock 1-0 win at Liverpool to reduce United’s advantage over the bottom three to just one point.
Clark, now manager of Sudan Premier League club Al-Merreikh, warns the pressure is on Bruce & Co to win their next two matches against Aston Villa and Brighton and Hove Albion.
But without the front three of Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin – who have scored 16 of Newcastle’s 27 league goals this season, the 48-year-old is fearful for his former club.
"The game against West Brom was of very poor standard involving two teams that are fighting relegation,” the Magpies legend added.
"Nil-nil doesn’t really benefit neither side. The only way it’ll help Newcastle is if they go and pick up maximum points in the next game, which is what they’ve got to do. Then, the draw won’t look so bad.
"Two wins in 18 is not what people want.
"When you’re missing your main front three – (Miguel) Almiron was in good form, (Allan) Saint-Maximin can win a game in a flash and (Callum) Wilson is your top scorer who can always get you a goal from nothing.
"When you’ve got those three missing, it becomes really, really difficult because Newcastle need to start winning games.”
Bruce welcomes former side Villa to St James’s Park on Friday evening, while Fulham host Manchester City and Brighton make the short trip to Southampton over the weekend.