Rio Ferdinand has launched an unexpected attack on Newcastle fans who criticise Mike Ashley – and has told them to “put up the money” if they don’t like the way he’s running the club.
It’s been another tough season at St James’ Park. The Magpies went into the international break on the back of a 3-0 reverse at Brighton and just two points clear of 18th-placed Fulham. Indeed, a run of just four wins in 20 games have piled the pressure on Steve Bruce. Adding to their despair are reports of high tensions behind the scenes.
It’s a long way off the dreams their fans will have had at the start of the season. Talk of a £300m Saudi takeover saw fanciful reports of Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and various others all signing.
But when that takeover collapsed, Newcastle were left once again in the hands of the unpopular Ashley.
However, Ferdinand has stuck up for the beleagured sportswear tycoon – and claims supporters should step forward if they can do better.
“He don’t care what people think,” Ferdinand said on his YouTube channel.
“It’s his club and he’s doing what he wants to do.
“Whether you like it or not, he’s the one that’s put the money up and he’s doing what he thinks is right for the club.
“Whether the Geordies don’t like it… a lot of them hate him and don’t like him but… round your money up and take over the club then.”
Ferdinand also feels more homegrown talent should find a route into the first-team at Newcastle.
He added: “That’s my biggest point with Newcastle, like, they’ve got that area locked off. All of the north east is basically Newcastle’s because Middlesbrough aren’t in the Premier League, Darlington etc are not in the Premier League. So they have first dibs on all of the talent in the north east.
“Why have they not nurtured more more players into that first team? I don’t get it.
“Whether it is investment, or the quality of that the structure of that process at the club isn’t right.
“If I was a Geordie, if I was a Newcastle fan, that’s where I would be shouting and pointing my finger.
“Not enough has been done with the talent that must be kicking around in Newcastle. It’s impossible to think there aren’t more [good local players who should have been developed].”
Ferdinand says Newcastle fans deserve better
Ferdinand, meanwhile, also feels their supporters do deserve a team that should be at the top end of the Premier League.
“I loved playing there, what a place to play,” Ferdinand said.
“We used to hurt them but it was an unbelievable place to play. What a stadium.
“We were beating them one time…and this is how good their fans are, the Geordies yeah.
“I have to just tip my hat to them. We were beating them something like 6-1 and they were still singing their songs for their club and clapping their team.
“It was unbelievable and all our players were in the changing room, saying did you hear that? Did you hear what was going on there.”