Matt Ritchie’s return is no coincidence for Newcastle United
Matt Ritchie is renowned for his tireless work ethic and brilliant left foot.
He has characteristics that football fans look for in players representing their club, which has led him to become a fan favorite at St James’ Park.
From the moment he arrived in the summer of 2016, Matt Ritchie understood what it means to be a Newcastle player and in the last three games since coming back to the side he has demonstrated it once again.
The Scotland international was used in a now familiar left-back position; a position in which he has become more and more comfortable since Rafa first used him a few seasons ago. Newcastle have sought to have more balance as a team, which Matt Ritchie has largely contributed to.
Now relatively resolute defensively, Newcastle are undefeated in their last three games.
On the back of that, and knowing that he never stops running, many Newcastle fans prefer Ritchie on the left wing before the alternatives.
While Jamaal Lewis has shown glimpses of his potential since his summer move from Norwich, and will no doubt become our top pick in the future, he has too often looked defensively fragile this season.
When you’re fighting relegation, you need consistency. Ritchie displays it in every game he’s involved with.
One thing Newcastle fans especially love about Matt Ritchie is his passion. Every week there are new videos on Twitter of Matt Ritchie celebrating just before we scored; his jump in front of a goal that has now become emblematic of supporters.
His commitment, joy and determination are contagious and galvanize both his teammates and the fans.
Regardless of the passion, you must also deliver to the field. Shouting a lot and running count for nothing if you have no effect on the game and the team is losing.
But since returning to the side, Matt Ritchie has backed his desire, having a huge influence on our team. The Scottish is one of the main reasons we saw a dramatic comeback in results from the 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur on April 4th.
In Spurs play, Ritchie has consistently delivered dangerous crosses which have caused a number of problems for the visiting defense. Most important of all was his 85th-minute delivery which, following a header from Joelinton, led to Joe Willock’s equalizer. Yes, we conceded two goals in four minutes in the first half, but Ritchie’s 85th minute performance led to another point on the board.
The following week at Burnley Newcastle were poor in the first half and much of the second. When Allan Saint Maximin joined the fray, he blew Burnley away, securing points with a goal and an assist. But Ritchie’s influence on that win was noticeable, as he formed a resilient defense fifth that consistently fought off the hosts’ latest push for an equalizer, resisting their aerial bombardment.
Ritchie’s most productive display of recent times has come with our 3-2 win over West Ham yesterday. Matt Ritchie helped create two of three goals against the Hammers, one of which was a game-winning delivery from which Joe Willock scored.
Despite the team’s poor performance in the second half, where we looked like we had lost three points to 10 men, Ritchie and Willock stepped up and dragged Newcastle across the line.
Now defensively we still haven’t kept a clean sheet since Ritchie came back to the side, and that could be used as an argument against the Scottish return having only a positive impact.
But his industrious pace of work, his driving force and his offensive returns surely underline his value to the team?
When Newcastle fans see Ritchie’s name on the roster, they know they are going to gain consistency.
Yes, there are games where he can contribute very little, but his performance never seems to drop below 7/10. He is a constant artist and a hard worker; you need it in a relegation fight.
While Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson are the main difference makers, they still need constant performers around them to allow them to thrive.
Matt Ritchie does just that, while often contributing his own contributions as reported over the past three weeks.