Andros Townsend was the first player to jump ship in the summer and we had thought of the four high profile who could leave – Andros plus Wijnaldum, Sissoko and Janmaat – he was the one most likely to stay.
But he didn’t and he was gone before pre-season training even started.
As it ended up all four players left the club in the summer transfer window for Premier League clubs with Sissoko leaving for Tottenham for a whopping £30M with only minutes to go in the window.
Matt Ritchie – ambitious and strong-minded
But the loss of Andros in lat June was buoyed by the immediate arrival of Matt Richie from Bournemouth for £10M.
Matt seemed very willing to take the drop to the Championship to join Newcastle United and world-class manager Rafa Benitez.
There were only two coaches to stay at Newcastle under Rafa – Ian Cathro and goalkeeper coach Simon Smith – and Ian has today talked about the ambition of Matt.
The interview is in the Sunday Herald – this is what Ian had to say:
“Matt is strong-minded, very clear in what he wants to achieve and he is an ambitious guy.”
“He truly saw the potential of this club, the potential of the moment we are in.”
“Progress needs to take place, growth needs to take place but ultimately the potential is here and he is strong enough to say ‘I will go there and lift it back up’.”
“It takes a very strong man to make that choice and I am very respectful of Matt for that.”
“He can be a real great driving force for us, he has good game intelligence and thinks about football.”
“When you add up those things he is definitely someone who can play an influential role for the team.”
Good words there from Ian who survived a stormy baptism last season as one of the new Newcastle coaches under Steve McClaren.
But he is highly thought of at Newcastle and Rafa was only too willing to keep Ian on board and part of his new coaching team.
Matt can become a real star player at Newcastle and he has looked a very good player so far – a player who can score goals for us.
The 26 year-old Scottish International is currently with the Scottish squad and looks like a great singing for us and he can help us get promoted at the very first attempt next May.
Howay The Lads!!