29-year-old Matt Ritchie has been in excellent form of late, and one thing you expect from the former Bournemouth player is 100% effort and passion.
And Matt scored his 3rd goal of the season on Saturday in the 94th minute to give Newcastle an excellent 2-2 draw after the referee had gifted the home side a very soft penalty early in the second half.
But this team that Rafa has put together on Tyneside simply never gives up, and they don’t know when they are beaten.
Matt has been playing as a left wing-back and playing so well in that position over the last few months.
But Rafa could bring in a left wing-back this summer so Ritchie can play further up the field where he is always a threat with his crosses and shots at goal.
Matt Ritchie equalizes with a beautiful volley in stoppage time on Saturday
This is what Rafa said after the game about one of his star players in the Shields Gazette:
“I think he’s a player who has the commitment and the work rate, and then when he plays in this position he has the stamina to go up and down all the time,”
“Then he can get into the box and defend and help his defenders at the back.”
“It’s a good position for him right now, but obviously he can play higher and he can make also the difference with his shots and crosses.”
“But, in this position, he’s doing well, and he’s giving us the width that we’re looking for.”
“He always has a feeling for the game, and has passion all the time,”
“In training sessions and in games, he always shows this character and passion.”
Matt Ritchie is a Rafa Benitez type player if ever there was one – and we paid (just) £12M to the Cherries for him almost three years ago – he’s been one of Rafa’s best acquisitions for the club.
The fans love Matt because of his commitment, skill, and the passion he shows for Newcastle United.