Matt Ritchie may have met the end of his road at Newcastle United after Steve Bruce hit out at the winger following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The former Scotland international was one of four players Bruce called out in his post-game media duties for their role in letting a one-goal lead fail to return all three points.
Bruce also pointed his finger at goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and defender Jamal Lewis for their roles in Wolves’ equaliser, and criticised Joelinton for his slack finishing.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s Molineux natives pulled level through Ruben Neves entering the final quarter of an hour, after Lewis was beaten easily and failed to block Pedro Neto’s cross.
Dubravka got a full hand on Neves’ header but failed to get sufficient strength behind his contact to prevent the ball from finding the net.
The Wolves midfielder had been left unchallenged in the centre of the box, as Ritchie failed to pass on instructions of a formation change after replacing the injured Emil Krafth.
“The instructions Matty didn’t get on to the team quick enough on how we were doing it,” Bruce said, via quotes by Chronicle Live. “When you look at the goal, we should have stopped the cross and when the ‘keeper looks at it, could he have done better?”
Bruce then added his thoughts on Joelinton wasting a golden chance to put Newcastle back ahead in the dying stages, after the Brazilian’s effort from 12-yards out was bundled over the bar by Romain Saiss despite having the beating of Wolves shot-stopper Rui Patricio.
“I think he should score,” the Toon boss noted. “It was a great run by [Jacob] Murphy and it was a big, big chance with, what was it, seven minutes to go? I’ve just seen it back again and it’s a big, huge opportunity that we missed.”
The 31-year-old had been a regular at St. James’ Park over the festive period following a shoulder injury, starting five of eight top-flight fixtures, but fell out of favour amid negotiations with AFC Bournemouth over a potential return to the Vitality Stadium.
With Ritchie only playing 18 of a possible 450 minutes since the window slammed shut and Bruce’s comments suggesting that he felt let down by the veteran’s lack of leadership at a crucial time, it could be curtains for the Gosport-born winger’s long-term Magpies future.
The St. James’ Park natives will surely be opposed to continue paying Ritchie a large sum each week with little to no return, so will likely look to move the midfielder on again in the off-season – despite presenting him with a new contract last March, one that runs until 2023.