29-year-old Matt Ritchie is having another excellent season for Newcastle, and he’s now operating as a left wing back.
Matt is playing deeper than he used to play and has had to learn his additional defensive duties this season.
It turns out both Middlesbrough and Stoke were interested in taking Matt Ritchie last summer to help them get promoted from the Championship.
In particular, Matt had an offer to join Stoke City last summer and go down a division and hopefully help Stoke get promoted – as he had done with Newcastle back in 2016 when we signed him from Bournemouth.
But the deal was not done and as it turns out Stroke are struggling in the Championship and currently in 17th place.
Matt Ritchie – loving it at Newcastle
Matt was asked if he was pleased he stayed at Newcastle and this is what he said as reported in the Chronicle today:
“Yeah, 100%. I’m really enjoying it,”
“We’re in the thick of a Premier League season, and it’s a fantastic club. And I’m enjoying the role I’m in – I’m really enjoying it.”
“It was my decision to leave Bournemouth because Newcastle was the place I wanted to be – and it’s the same now,”
“It’s a challenge I have relished taking on and I still am. For all the good times I had at Bournemouth, not for one moment have I regretted the move.”
“I take an enormous amount of pleasure watching them on Match of the Day and seeing lads I spent so much time with doing so well.”
“We were such a tight group at Bournemouth. The manager, all the staff, everyone involved; I was there for years with them, so that club is still very much part of me.”
“It makes me so proud to sit back knowing I played my own part in getting a fantastic club to where they are today.”
“I’ve got to be honest, I’m loving it. (left wing back position).” “I feel like I get in better areas higher up the pitch with the ball.”
“I’d say that one of my biggest strengths is my delivery, and I get in positions now to cross the ball,”
“I feel like, defensively, I had to learn on the job a little bit. I made a few mistakes, small errors, which you get punished for in this league.”
“I didn’t get tight enough at Watford. I came away from that game learning.”
“I learned on the job. The Man City game gave me great confidence defensively. I came away from those games learning and becoming a better player.”
“I’ve certainly really enjoyed playing left-wing-back.”
“The way we play, the lads in the middle are spraying the ball out wide. I think we’ve worked a lot on switching the play, and the wing-backs in this system are so important.”
Matt will be playing against his former club on Saturday, and he has fond memories of playing at Bournemouth and still has many friends on the south coast.
Let’s hope we can get the win on Saturday – about half our fans think we can do that.