Newcastle manager Benitez has often pointed to Matt Ritchie as the type of player he wants at Newcastle.
Matt was desperate to join Rafa in the summer of 2016 even though it meant dropping down one division from Bournemouth to do so.
But Matt’s enthusiasm, hard work, and significant skills have been a huge positive for Newcastle since he signed for us for about £12M.
Matt has now played 117 games for Newcastle with 21 goals and 21 assists in almost three seasons at Newcastle and he was a key player in getting us promoted in May 2017.
Rafa Benitez with Matt Ritchie
This is what Rafa has said about Matt as reported in the Shields Gazette today:
“He is definitely one of the most important signings,”
“In terms of importance, value and what he has been giving to the team, he has been an important player for us, for sure.”
“We have to decide about that (who takes the penalties)”
“What I can guarantee you is that we have been practicing taking penalties, free-kicks and corners.”
“We were practicing before, and I saw bottom corner, bottom corner. He was doing really well (taking the penalties).”
“During the game, he decided to change and do something different, but he’s someone you can trust.”
Yes, Matt missed his first penalty for Newcastle last Saturday but in the end, it didn’t cost us any points.
In an amazing second-half comeback from 2-0 down, Rondon scored and two goals from Perez allowed us to get a brilliant home win against the Toffees.
That’s five home wins in a row – now let’s hope we can get a win away this afternoon at Matt’s former club Bournemouth.