'The gloves are off' - Martin Keown claims Steve Bruce is 'paranoid' after Newcastle 'treason' rant
TalkSPORT pundit Martin Keown has claimed that Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce is becoming “paranoid” amid ongoing turmoil surrounding the club.
The Magpies boss made headlines this week after it was revealed that he and winger Matt Ritchie had been involved in a training ground bust-up in the aftermath of last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Wolves.
Speaking to talkSPORT on Friday morning, Bruce slammed the leak that allowed the incident to go public, comparing it to “treason” and branding it “wholly disgusting”.
But former Arsenal defender Keown has suggested that the manager needs to spend less time fighting battles with the press, and more time preparing for Sunday’s vital relegation showdown with West Brom.
Speaking on talkSPORT, he said: “What he needs to make sure of is that none of this is going to unhinge the team going into what is a massive game this weekend against West Brom.
“Its worrying because you don’t need to go into detail. You need to fix the problem in the dressing room.
"At the end of the day, you need that trust with the players, and that seems to have disappeared at the moment. My energies would be going into how to get those players back onboard again.
"There’s no campaign against Steve Bruce and Newcastle, but he believes there is. He’s pointing to things. Is he paranoid? He should be paranoid about staying up. That’s all he needs to be looking at.
"They’ve gone through a difficult period, but yes they have improved. They’ve brought the coach in, Graeme Jones came in and we saw the improvement against Everton. He’s got three key players out.
"He’s got to try and fix this team, get Ritchie on side. They’ll only make these noises when they don’t feel that it’s right on the inside, and that’s something that’s been growing now for a number of weeks.
"I don’t think he did himself any favours when he said, ‘Look, 18 months I’ve been here and I’m going to do it my way from now on’. That really made it look like he was leaping from any blame from where they found themselves, and that’s maybe where the players felt, ‘Hold on a minute, we’re going to dig you out a little bit’.
"The gloves have come off and it’s become very public.
"What they do now is that they need to come back together as a group because Newcastle are being represented in all of this.
"It’s a massive game at the weekend, and you can be sure Sam Allardyce will be licking his lips at this, because if he’s going down, he wants to take them with him. That's how it will be looked at, but this a chance for them to stay up. All the energy should be going into that.
"We’re a few hours away from a massive game, and all we’re talking about are splits in the camp. Who's thinking about their opponent at the weekend? Who’s thinking about what matters? What matters is getting some points.
"Maybe he’s severed relationships with players and that’s the problem. You have to love your players. It’s easy to look at what they don’t do when you want to blame people, and this looks like it’s become a blame game.”