Matt Ritchie says Newcastle United must adopt a siege mentality in the last 11 games of the season – with the winger insisting that some of the criticism of his teammates has been unfair.
Since many United players have decided not to speak to the media at Selhurst Park, Ritchie had to be convinced to give his point of view to the clearly defeated United team after a 1-0 defeat against Roy Hodgson’s Eagles.
But once Ritchie learned that the 2,800 fans who traveled would have had no vision or explanation of the locker room after the sad defeat, he was happy to send them a message.
Ritchie has answered questions about everything from Newcastle ownership to press coverage of the team’s performances this season.
Here is the complete transcript of the interview.
Sounds like a tough time for the team – how’s the mood in the locker room right now?
Matt Ritchie: “We are obviously disappointed.
“We want to win games, especially against the teams around us, but it’s a difficult place to come.
“It’s the Premier League and we have to get back on our feet and start again.”
Is this a difficult time (a win in nine games)?
Ritchie said: “It looks longer, and I know you like stories, but it’s longer because we had the winter break where we got in good shape (unbeaten in eight games in all competitions).
“It seems a long time (after a win) but it is probably a little misleading.
“We just had a break, where we got into a good shape race.
“It feels longer than it was because we never played games.
“They are only two games (without dot).
“Yes, we haven’t had good results, but it won’t take long for this to change.
“As long as the guys come together and have the right mentality, we will be fine.
“We know we have games from which we hope we can get something.”
Lack of goals is a concern (no goals in 270 minutes of the Premier League)
Ritchie said: “We have achieved good results this season and we just have to keep doing the same.
“We have to work as a team to try to create more and score more.
“It depends on the whole team.”
What is the message for fans who have traveled?
Ritchie said: “We didn’t play well, but we played worse than that and got things in the Premier League.
“We know it’s a difficult place to come and we knew it was going to be a difficult game.
“We need to brush up and go again.”
Can you understand the tension? Not for you or a single player, but we’ve had problems with the owner in the past – and you’ve had a bit of a kickback today for what happened in the last 10 years or so, is it difficult for players?
Ritchie said, “Not at all.
“It doesn’t seem to me that (the wider situation) is a problem.
“In my opinion, the owners’ stories were created in the press or otherwise.
“The owner is the owner: we spent money on the last two windows.
“As a team, this (if Newcastle stays on) would be our fourth season in the Premier League now and we have had good results in the division.
“You can try creating scenarios or situations, but there isn’t one.
“We have achieved good results in the Premier League and will continue to try to build, raise the bar, raise the standards and improve, individually and as a football team.
“This is what we try to do.”
So what happens next, will Burnley be tough?
Ritchie said, “As you just said, it’s a (Burnley) difficult game.
“I hope that when I read the reports later, I will say that we got three points, but as you said, it’s a difficult game.”
Are you (as a player) frustrated by the coverage, the way the club is reflected fairly?
Ritchie said, “I don’t read the cover.
“Honestly, I don’t read the cover.
“All I know is that today we beat and didn’t perform as we wanted, but we will work hard on training this week and try to improve, as every week, we win, lose or draw.”
The fans sang to attack, is it fair about the game that the team has received?
Ritchie said, “I haven’t heard it (attack, attack, attack).
“I was concentrating on the game.”
Can you take comfort from your home form as these would always have been two tough away games?
Ritchie said: “The results of this season have been generally good.
“We have been on some good slopes and some not so good ones.
“Okay, we conceded four goals at Arsenal, but it wasn’t really that kind of match.
“For me, we just have to stick together, stay as we are and win games like we won games this season.
“We have been a similar team for the past four years in the Premier League, so we have to do something right.
“Talk to whoever plays against us and everyone says we’re a tough team to beat.
“This is what we will continue to be, and we hope to be able to collect three points being that.”
There has been much to say about Joelinton’s form, what do you think?
Ritchie said: “All players can score goals on the pitch, it’s not just about Jo.
“We win and lose together as a team.
“We attack together and defend together – only you guys talk about singles.
“It doesn’t depend on people at all, it’s collective.”
Aren’t the criticisms of Joelinton right given its £ 40 million price tag?
Ritchie said, “Definitely not.
“It is not fair to criticize any player.
“No player goes out to score goals or not to do something.
“Joey works the socks for the team.”