26 year-old Matt Ritchie had an offer from West Ham in the summer but chose Newcastle because he wanted to work under world-class manager Rafa Benitez, and Rafa had made it clear to the winger that he really wanted him on Tyneside.
Rafa explained on his radio call-in show on BBC Radio Newcastle last night that once Andros Townsend came back to him in June and said he had decided to leave Newcastle, then with the help of Lee Charnley they made a move for Matt.
Matt Ritchie talks to Rafa Benitez
And in fact Matt was signed before Andros then moved to Crystal Palace – and that’s something Rafa has done quite well with this summer – to bring in a replacement before a player is moved out.
Ritchie is convinced that Newcastle can become a top club under Rafa and he was asked today how he felt when he knew of Benitez’s interest in him:
“That felt fantastic,” “As a footballer, to know he wanted me gives me a lot of confidence.” “But I can’t take my foot off the gas for a minute.”
“I’m at a crucial stage in my career at 26, I’d like to kick on to a new level with a massive club like Newcastle.”
“If we can get back in the Premier League then there is no reason why we can’t be a top club.” “Rafa joked that he wants goals and assists – and I’m sure he does,”
“But that’s what I will be looking to bring – flair, goals, assists.” So what does Benitez expect from his most expensive Newcastle signing to date?”
“That is what we’ll need in the Championship.” “We have good attacking players and we need to make sure we produce.”
“I can’t speak about last season, but since I’ve been involved the group has been fantastic.” “Everyone gets on and backs each other.”
“We trust each other with the ball and you can see we have a good bond already – that will only get stronger.”
“We won’t leave anything in the dressing room.”
We expect Matt to start the game tomorrow night at Fulham – the first game in a very important season for Newcastle United and let’s hope we can win the game.
That would be an improvement over the last time we were in the Championship, when in our first game we had to come back from being 1-0 down at West Brom and manager Roberto Di Matteo to get the 1-1 draw.
Matt has the talent and drive to become a better player under the guidance of Rafa Benitez and that’s also true of a number of the other new players the manager has brought into the club this summer.
Howay The Lads!!