Newcastle Star Simply A Fabulous Signing By Rafa

Matt Ritchie was very pleased to come to Newcastle last summer, even though he had to take a step down in the leagues to join second division Newcastle United.

Mat has now scored 14 goals for us and has certainly been one of our best players and the Gosport-born player was again our Man of the March on Saturday with a sizable 74% of the vote.

There’s no doubt Matt is a very good winger who can score goals and he will only get better under the expert coaching of a certain Mr. Rafa Benitez.

Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle
Two star players this season – before Gayle got the number 9 shirt

Matt is down to earth also – one of the many reasons he is so popular with the Newcastle fans.

Matt has previous experience of playing in the Championship with Bournemouth and he knows that no game is easy and he’s expecting another tough game against Burton Albion on Wednesday night.

We have a feeling he will be right about that.

This is what Matt Ritchie has said as reported in the Shields Gazette today:

“The manager brought me in to score goals and create goals.”

“And that’s what I’m doing at the moment.” “I probably should have created a few more against Wigan as my final pass wasn’t quite at it.”

“But I’m delighted with the goal, and hopefully there’ll be a few more before the end of the season.”

“At this stage of the season you just have to have the desire to get over the line,”

“It’s not always about dominating, that’s nice and pleasing to do that, but it’s about three points at this stage of the season.”

“I think that’s the stage of the season we’re at now really – if you’re playing tremendous football then you’ll get results.”

“It’s hard to do that, but I did think we played well at times. I thought in spells we had some really good movements and looked dangerous, especially when it was 2-1.”

“Then we should have killed the game off even more, and I should have scored when I was put through one on one.”

“You’ve seen throughout the season that anyone can beat anyone in this league, and you’ve got to be aware of all of the teams threats,”

“Burton certainly have threats and they’ve shown by beating Huddersfield that they can beat top teams.”

“For sure they can win.”

Newcastle are now getting closer to promotion, but we still must keep out feet firmly on the ground.

But when we are promoted we can all celebrate wildly and go crazy (great!) and players like Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle, who dropped down a division, will be fully vindicated.

The two of them have also been our best two players this term and between them have scored a massive 36 goals.


That’s a fabulous return from just two players this season and they are two of the heroes for Newcastle United.

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Comments welcome.

41 comments so far

  • martoon

    Apr 3, 2017 at 4:18 PM

    Comment #1

    The strange thing about Ritchie is he’s not a winger in the traditional sense – i.e. speed and a trick to beat the fullback. He tends to use anticipation and guile as he is not that fast – still a good player though.

  • Macas

    Apr 3, 2017 at 4:26 PM

    Comment #2

    I’m probably in a minority but been very disappointed with Ritchie. Also, Bournemouth didn’t seem to put up too much of a fight when we signed him. He’s had a few good games and chipped in with some goals but in open play he is generally very average. Can’t fault his workrate but I would hope we are looking to better quality players if we go up.

  • Toonces

    Apr 3, 2017 at 4:29 PM

    Comment #3

    I think Ritchie has been a good player and I do like the fire that he brings to the team. Someone mentioned him as Captain material but I don’t really see that in him. He has a tendency to yell at players when they make errors (or what he sees as errors) and he will stop his own play to yell at the officials if a call doesn’t go his way – sometimes when the ball is going back towards our goal. He doesn’t seem to have that composure that a good captain needs to have. This can come with experience but I think a good captain needs to lead by example first but be able to stay composed under pressure and know when to light a fire. I’m not sure if Ritchie is more than a squad player at PL level (had trouble being a regular in the starting squad for Bournemouth last season) but he is a great player for us this season and that is all that matters for now and the next 7 games.

  • Toonces

    Apr 3, 2017 at 4:33 PM

    Comment #4


    To me, there was a run of games in the September-November period where I think Ritchie was poor to average at best. Since late December though he has been one of our better players – especially when Shelvey was suspended.

  • JamesToon

    Apr 3, 2017 at 4:39 PM

    Comment #5

    i’d describe ritchie as a wide playmaker, he can do everything and works so hard which i and majority absolutely love. From his performances and work rate this season he deserves to be our starting right mid next season, we just need someone on the other side with similar qualities to him rather than gouffran

  • JamesToon

    Apr 3, 2017 at 4:41 PM

    Comment #6

    i watched ritchie a lot in the prem and this is my verdict:

    He was ok, he’s not as direct as players like townsend which made him less of a threat, but his tactical awareness, ability to retain possession (you rarely see him give the ball away) his work rate, his two foot ability is second to none. He’s the type of player vital in a rafa side, someone who works hard, can help retain possession and carve the opposition open and control the game

  • Novocastrian66

    Apr 3, 2017 at 4:54 PM

    Comment #7

    I was critical of Ritchie before Christmas however since the turn of the year he has been in tremendous form. Cannot fault his recent performances, he has been carrying the team on occasions.

  • Toonces

    Apr 3, 2017 at 5:27 PM

    Comment #8


    Agreed. I would say that ritchie stepped in with the absence of gayle and shelvey and rose to the occasion.

  • hibbit

    Apr 3, 2017 at 5:28 PM

    Comment #9

    i like Ritchie gives a 100% most games

    is he a prem player or has he found his level ??

  • BenArfa the magician

    Apr 3, 2017 at 6:14 PM

    Comment #10

    Ritchie is easily one of the best players in the championship. I don’t think he’ll be good enough for us and our style of play in the Prem.

    We have 2 very hard working RM/LM in Gouff and Ritchie but neither carry enough threat against Prem defenders to do to much. Ritchie may be better suited to coming inside very tidy player and could make things happen. I do like Ritchie but think for the Prem pace and flair out wide works best

  • AncientC

    Apr 3, 2017 at 6:15 PM

    Comment #11

    There is no doubt in my mind Ritchie is PL quality. Man Utd wouldn’t have been watching him if he wasn’t quality. Ritchie’s stats in the Championship show he is a cut above.

  • Tsunki

    Apr 3, 2017 at 6:49 PM

    Comment #12

    If we are consigning our possible POTS to the scrap bin before next season, who exactly are we planning to keep ? 😐

  • Munster Mag

    Apr 3, 2017 at 6:59 PM

    Comment #13

    Great win the other day, with Huddersfield losing, vital points. Appreciate that the task is to get out of the division, but has our style improved or are we still looking at a lot of sideways passing and long ball? Sorry didn’t get to read post match stuff. I can only assume we are always going to play this type of style under Rafa as we will have to be even more defensive if we go up?

  • BenArfa the magician

    Apr 3, 2017 at 7:00 PM

    Comment #14

    As Mourinho seems to hate Luke Shaw with a passion what a potential signing that could be for us.

  • MadisonToon

    Apr 3, 2017 at 7:00 PM

    Comment #15

    @10 BenArfa

    I hadn’t considered Ritchie inside instead of out on the wing. But just mulling that over in my head, I think he could be great a bit further infield. His tactical awareness would be very useful there and instinctive anticipation to help create counters and generally build up play from a more central role.

    I wonder what he’d be like in the hole as I don’t think either Diame or Perez will really shine there next season (they haven’t this season in the Championship!). Would be an interesting idea, but we’ll need significant signings to maintain strong wing players if we are moving one of our best inside (Ritchie, probably only one close is Atsu after he realizes some of his potential).

    Will be interesting to see how ths team shapes up next pre-season, but we have to get over the line first. HWTL.

  • Ron Knee

    Apr 3, 2017 at 7:03 PM

    Comment #16

    Have we already been promoted? Have I missed something here?

  • BenArfa the magician

    Apr 3, 2017 at 7:11 PM

    Comment #17


    Exactly mate could be great as a no10, has all the attributes for it works hard, defends well, always looking for a pass or shot. Would love to see him given that role for a few games once/If we get promoted.

    I’d imagine Rafa will definitely be bringing in some wingers if Townsend was anything to go by in Jan and losing Gouff and Atsu.

  • magspuggy

    Apr 3, 2017 at 7:24 PM

    Comment #18

    Gayle will probably get toon player of the year but Ritchie and Jonjo will both come close.

    All three will be in the squad next year in the premier imho

  • Tsunki

    Apr 3, 2017 at 7:25 PM

    Comment #19

    Ron not only promoted but already playing dire defensive football in the Premier league.

  • Ron Knee

    Apr 3, 2017 at 7:30 PM

    Comment #20


    And relegated again next season!

  • JamesToon

    Apr 3, 2017 at 7:55 PM

    Comment #21


    luke shaw would be a class signing and a sign of ambition, but feel he’ll probably go to everton or spurs

  • ShirebrookToon

    Apr 3, 2017 at 8:36 PM

    Comment #22


    I said the same thing the other week. People talking like we’re already promoted

  • lordy_geordie

    Apr 3, 2017 at 8:47 PM

    Comment #23

    Tsunki @12.

    I would have

    Ritchie, Lascelles, Shelvey and Krul as starters with others squad members. Gayle not prem standard, although i’m happy with him

  • Ron Knee

    Apr 3, 2017 at 8:48 PM

    Comment #24


    Let’s take it one game at a time, like Rafa says!

  • BenArfa the magician

    Apr 3, 2017 at 8:50 PM

    Comment #25


    Yeah Everton is a good shout for Shaw, Baines is getting on now.

  • BenArfa the magician

    Apr 3, 2017 at 8:52 PM

    Comment #26

    Ron Knee

    Nothing wrong with a bit of optimism on the blog, something that has been severely missing.

  • ShirebrookToon

    Apr 3, 2017 at 9:04 PM

    Comment #27


    Spot on mate!

  • mindshaft

    Apr 3, 2017 at 9:15 PM

    Comment #28

    Think some people need a head shake on here – when we get promoted we won’t be competing for a top 5-6 position – we’ll be vying for upper mid table … we have some players , Ritchie for one who are easily good enough to compete with the likes of Everton / West Brom / stoke …

  • jane

    Apr 3, 2017 at 9:35 PM

    Comment #29

    yep 8th or 9th would be good achievement.

  • sing in the corner

    Apr 3, 2017 at 9:48 PM

    Comment #30

    Top half..a fantastic achievement that would be. One that is almost out of the question in season 1, all things being equal, and taking into account the established quality and relative wealth of teams in or around the top half places.
    If we trade wisely, and aren’t completely bombed out of any of the decent signings we aim for by established clubs bidding higher, we can realistically look for 12th I think.

  • JamesToon

    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:03 PM

    Comment #31

    Gayle will be decent in the prem as he has pace and good movement, but we’ll need someone better than him to compete I think

  • Lilongwe Geordie

    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:09 PM

    Comment #32

    Ritchie had a spell where he didn’t perform for whatever reason, but he is right up there for our best player this season. He had 1 season playing for Bournemouth in the Prem, and managed 4 goals and 6 assists. If he isn’t good enough when we go up, then we are going to need an entire 11 practically.

    He has work rate and product. We haven’t had a player that could do both of those out wide for a long time. We have had lazy players with ability and hard working players that don’t produce, but rarely one who does both. Solano? Stephen Glass?

    Yeah, after a couple of years consolidating and building, then yes, you’d hope to aim higher than Ritchie, but first season back, maybe even first two, then he is an important member of the team and squad. However, Rafa had the hard working Dirk Kuyt on the right (and out of position) at Liverpool, so Ritchie could remain an important player once we aim higher.

  • JamesToon

    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:16 PM

    Comment #33


    I definitely think ritchie should be a starter next season, then we see as we progress we upgrade

  • Lilongwe Geordie

    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:31 PM

    Comment #34

    I agree on Gayle. he is most likely an impact player moving forwards, but like Ritchie, will still be an important member next season.

    In reality, if/once we are into our third season back up, I’d imagine very few current players would be anywhere near the starting 11, provided we progress as we all hope/expect under Rafa.

  • Penshawlad

    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:36 PM

    Comment #35

    Remember Keegan was quite ruthless when it came to fans favourites when we got promoted. Out went David Kelly for Andre Cole. And later Cole was famously traded for the subsequent signing of Sir Les. I think we will need to adopt this approach again, or we will almost certainly struggle.

  • Munster Mag

    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:37 PM

    Comment #36

    Surprised nobody talking about Moyes tonite:)

  • lochinvar

    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:40 PM

    Comment #37

    Did we sell this lad or is he on long term loan ?

    Gael Bigirimana’s early close-range strike put League One’s Coventry 1 up in their eventual 2-1 Checkatrade Cup win

  • Lilongwe Geordie

    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:43 PM

    Comment #38

    I think he went on loan in our relegation season and joined them permanently last summer.

  • Average_Contents

    Apr 3, 2017 at 11:01 PM

    Comment #39


    You took the words right out of my mouth (fingers)

    Dirk kuyt 2.0

    He even comes with floppy hair, obviously minus the quiffy curl.

    Hard working, not blessed with speed but technically good and chips in with a few goals and assists, at least I think he will in the prem for us.

    Basically Rafa’s Mr reliable.

  • JamesToon

    Apr 4, 2017 at 12:19 AM

    Comment #40

    Im thinking and hoping the younger players like Lascelles, Darlow, Yedlin, Hayden, Shelvey and Aarons will progress with this team and become real quality premier league players, that a lot of clubs will be envious of.


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