I have a feeling that Newcastle fans are going to love Matt Ritchie.
The Bournemouth winger having arrived at St James Park on Friday as Andros (‘Hopefully Alan Pardew can take my game to another level’) Townsend passed him on the way out after jumping the relegated ship.
Great strategic planning and timing by Rafa Benitez, taking away much/all of the negativity that would/could have came with the loss of Newcastle’s most creative player.
Four goals and six assists in 37 Premier League appearances (four of them as a sub) for Bournemouth last season, not necessarily stand out statistics for Matt Ritchie, certainly not compared to the previous 24 months.
In the previous two seasons for the Cherries in the Championship Matt Ritchie was devastating, scoring 24 goals and making 21 goals in 72 starts (plus four as a sub).
However, in addition to the more obvious creating/scoring goals, I came across this interview from January which gives Rafa and the fans extra confidence that the right player has been brought in for the season ahead and beyond.
Speaking to The Mail, Matt Ritchie told how he has always relished doing his bit in defence, as well as going forward, saying ‘(I’ve) never been someone to toss off defending’ – not something we could always have said about previous Newcastle wingers!
The Mail had just published statistics after 21 Premier Leagues had passed last season, in these statistics only two Premier League players had ran further than Matt Ritchie.
Ritchie had covered 151.8 miles in 21 PL games, with only team-mate Andrew Surman (158.2) and Gareth Barry (155.1) ahead of him.
In the stats of most ground covered, wingers are usually very much a rarity, with central midfelders like Barry and Surman tending to dominate.
So bucketfuls of goals and assists, plus somebody who doesn’t ‘toss off defending’, what is there not to like about Newcastle’s latest signing?
Matt Ritchie talking to The Mail in January 2016:
“I read an article on the Mail that said I was third behind Gareth Barry. It’s a fantastic stat but a tough one.
“All they prove is that you run far. Whether that running was effective or not is a different kettle of fish. I might run 13km every week but what if Glen Murray comes off the bench and scores every week? Who’s more effective?
‘I’ve always been able to do it backwards and forwards, (I’ve) never been someone to toss off defending.
“It’s a strange one – in a way I do enjoy it. That feeling knowing you’ve made a block to keep a clean sheet is great.
“It’s different to scoring and creating, as a winger that’s what you’re paid to do, but you have to do your job.”