Matt Ritchie has turned out to be a bargain buy for Newcastle from Bournemouth last summer, and like Dwight Gayle, he was willing to take a step down in the leagues to join Rafa Benitez at Newcastle.
That was always going to be a risk if we didn’t come straight back to the Premier League but we did, and Matt was our Player of the Season and scored 16 goals for us with 10 assists in 48 total appearances last season.
It’s a good job Rafa persuaded Lee Charnley to pay that extra £2M or £3M for Matt last summer and not penny-pinch like we’ve done too much of in the past and even this summer too.
Matt Ritchie in action at Wolfsburg
Matt thinks Newcastle easily have enough talent to survive in the Premier League this season and this is what he has said as reported in the Northern Echo today:
“I don’t think we’re going to struggle. I think every game is going to be tough, don’t get me wrong.”
“But we’ve got positivity throughout the group and hopefully we can continue to work as we did on Sunday, especially first-half when we sort of had control of the game.”
“We can’t afford to think of Huddersfield as a struggling team this season. Last season they were a very good side and this season as well they’ve strengthened.”
“I like the way they play and it’s going to be a tough task.”
“That can work both ways (easily winning 3-0 at Crystal Palace last Saturday). They can be very confident and under-estimate us, although I’m sure they won’t.”
“I think the manager’s very good there and they’re a hungry group of lads and have a very good team.”
“We’re very wary of them and we’ve looked at their strengths and weaknesses and will look to do our job and put in a good performance.”
“Of course it’s don’t panic. The manager wants us to stay focused and one of his biggest strengths is that he never panics.”
“That spreads throughout the group, the group are very calm and we go focused to Huddersfield.”
“The manager stresses to keep on an even keel whether you’ve won or lost. We’ve got a young group and it’s important for us not to get ahead of ourselves if we get good results.”
“And we shouldn’t worry too much if we don’t pick up the results we want.”
“We lost our first two games last season and there was no panic. I’m not saying that’s going to happen again but whatever happens, there’ll be no panic.”
“The most disappointing thing is that we did so well to keep it at 0-0 against Tottenham for so long but it was always going to be an uphill task once they scored their first goal.”
“Especially with ten men but there were a lot of positives to take.”
“I’d like to score double figures if possible, and the same for assists. It’s a tough league but it’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to.”
“I got five with Bournemouth in the Premier League a couple of years ago, so I’m setting the bar high this year.”
“It’s nice to be back in the Premier League, the big difference, of course, is the speed on the ball and the quality you’re facing.”
“You might get away with a mistake or two in the Championship, but in the Premier League those get punished.”
What do you think?