28-year-old Scottish international Matt Ritchie has been sparkling form this season, and ever since he arrived from Bournemouth over a year ago, he’s been one of the best players at Newcastle.
And his work rate for the team is phenomenal – he makes me feel tired just watching him work for the side!
But we see Rafa Benitez man-management in action with the winger as Rafa insists that while he’s played well he can get better and we’re sure he’s drumming that into the former Swindon Town player.
Rafa’s managed the best players in the world so he will know the area of improvement for any player at Newcastle and that’s a real positive for Matt Ritchie.
One huge reason he came to Newcastle was to join Rafa Benitez.
Matt Ritchie in action at Huddersfield this season
Matt has been getting kudos in the press for his excellent performances, but Rafa knows he can get even better.
This is what the manager has said in the Mirror about Matt when asked if he was surprised by Matt’s excellent form:
“Not too much, to be fair, because we knew what he could do,’’
“Our first signings here were Matt and Dwight Gayle and I was asking people with experience in the Championship, and they said, ‘He’s definitely a signing’.”
“When I was talking with Matt, he was very keen to come here. We did the deal and we saw him every day, the passion, the intensity and how competitive he is.”
“We saw all that in his first season here, so it’s no surprise as we’ve seen him every day, playing and training with the same passion, commitment and he has quality.”
“He’s a player who has confidence, he knows his strengths and he plays on his strengths, so I think he’s someone who is doing well.
“But still, believe me, he can do better.’”
Newcastle fans will always remember Matt dropped down to the Championship to join Newcastle and he was great last season scoring 16 goals with 10 assists, and he was our Player of the Season.
It was a significant risk for Matt to come to Newcastle but it has paid off, and we haven’t yet seen the best of him.
We know that’s true because that’s what Rafa has said.