Matt Ritchie is without doubt our best player in the Premier League to date, carrying on this mantle from last season.

Rafa Benitez made a recent comment that he believes there is more improvement to come from Ritchie, a bold statement in my opinion, as the lad can barely give much more in terms of energy and commitment on the pitch.

However, I do believe if Ritchie was given the number 10 Perez role, he would excel even more.

Matt has great passing ability and awareness and loves to receive the ball, rarely wastes it and can certainly pressure the opposing holding midfield player that many teams have as a form of “quarter back” that makes teams tick.

If Rafa tried Matt Ritchie in this position then it opens up an opportunity for two wide men to get a look in.

Rolando Aarons has been rather unfortunate after a good pre-season, he was exceptional albeit against Bradford City, and performed well and scored a great goal against Notts Forest in the cup despite the defeat.

Murphy or Aarons would offer more pace than Ritchie down the wing, with Atsu on the other side, is then mouthwatering with the creative centre trio of Jonjo, Merino and Ritchie.

If we can add a left-back with pace, such as Kenedy, then we are truly set up as the new Leicester of the Premier League.

A low possession defensive minded team, with counter attacking qualities of precision passing and pace.

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  • Mikel

    lol no

  • NUFCDan

    Couldn’t disagree more, why play our best and most productive winger as a number 10? His biggest asset is his crossing and work rate, both of which would be nullified if played at number 10.

    • Mxpx

      He wouldn’t stop working just because he was in a different place I it all depends whose up top as to where we want Ritchie if we’re going with Gayle or joselu then number 10 is where we want Ritchie mitrovic is the only player that want’s the ball crossed to him so thats the only reason to play Ritchie wide

    • Jonathan Gibson

      Pelting down the wing to cross in for that giant centre forward we have? that’s alright in Ferdinand and Shearer days, not the current team.. and 4, 4, 1, 1 formation.
      Most goals in modern football in open play are not scored directly from wing crossing. At number 10 Ritchie would reek havoc more than he does on the wing and would have far more scoring opportunities with his quality finishing too. Set play, be it corner or free kick is different, the same quality deliverable would be there from him. A way of introducing two England Under 21 International wingers who both have the potential given the opportunity to be outstanding, more than capable of that work rate you mention and overall the performance of the team will surely be bettered by eradicating the woeful Perez who I simply don’t understand why he gets a game. All about opinions though but I cant see a more suitable number 10 in the squad which is a critical position requiring all the skill set that Ritchie possesses.

      • NUFCDan

        Obviously you are a better football manager than Rafa then. All a number 10 in a Rafa team is there to do is close down from the front and link play – Ritchie would be wasted in that role. The Ritchie as a number 10 mob are almost getting as boring as the Rafa should play 442 mob. Neither is ever going to happen.

      • blackiegray

        Crosses don’t need to be aimed at a head…

        Mitro, Joselu and Gayle, all strong headers of the ball mind, 2 of which could be described as target men also.

  • Wor Monga

    I liked this article because I can see Ritchie playig in the middle…he looks right for the role, he’s got the pace, and enough ability to go with it, and I can see Murphy, Atsu and Aarons being our wide men down the track, but Matt is a hard worker who is prepared to close off wide threats as well as get forward and create openings for us…

    …Rafa and the lad himself probably see that out wide is where he is more useful to a team that is adapting to this league, and why change something that is working and working well…we have seen that Perez can strike at this level and Joselu has enough quality to have interested RM and others, in the past…it’s in there, and Rafa can bring it out if anybody can…

    …lets stick with it for now!!!

  • TheNutJob

    the new Leicester, that`s a belter all we need is the new Vardy

    • Jonathan Gibson

      Well, if you play Ritchie at 10 then Gayle is your Centre Forward,
      Career stats Gayle has played in the Premier 74 times (large portion as a substitute) and scored 25 goals, Vardy has played 198 times and scored 71 goals, goal ratios are basically the same so what is the big deal about Vardy? Gayle has a far better scoring ratio than Vardy in the championship too.

      • blackiegray

        Give it up mate, you’re having a shocker! :)

        • Jonathan Gibson

          Not likely, look at mo salah at liverpool, very good winger all his career but incredible just behind striker since klopp moved him! rafa knows best of course but he will bring murphy or arrons into the team at some point and reckon he will utilize ritchie in this role as a result. Rob Lee and Kieron Dyer were both purchased as wingers and played well there but excelled centrally when moved, think outside of the box! (Excuse the pun)..😉

      • Rich Lawson

        Vardy is a proven international and even with crucial penalty misses has no fitness or ”confidence issues ” and looks dangerous for 90 min’s. Gayle just doesn’t seem to be the same player he was last season in a lower division ?

        • Jonathan Gibson

          Granted, gayle doesnt seem to have recovered from the hamstring fully, on a postive note hes got 5 years ahead of him then vardy, gayles coming into his prime now and he is the best finsher at the club, he could score a hatrick tomorrow and hell be the best thing since slice bread, hes not had a look in yet this season so hopefully he can rekindle last seasons form soon.

    • Munich Mag

      and they call Toon fans delusional, dear me. We havent beaten anyone yet !

  • blackiegray

    By that logic you’d also think he should play at left back? Pace, tackling, crossing. He’s good in that position, moving him makes no sense, which is exactly why Rafa hasn’t done it.

    • Jonathan Gibson

      I made no reference to pace, tackling or crossing? made reference to passing, awareness and pressure (or intensity) and no idea where the left back conclusion comes from? the lad is a premium player and always looking to be involved, incredibly creative player which carries more value at number 10 than out wide and eradicates the weak link which is Perez

      • Toonrobbybobson

        Matt Ritchie is more effective out wide… its why he has been there his whole career and if it was the right option he would already be there under Rafa. He isnt. Perez is until the point in time Rafa is given the funds to get a number 10 the team currently playing is our best setup. You don’t know better than Rafa and no fan does. We arent working with the players day in day out or under tactics, balance, fitness, mentality etc at his level.

        Our squad is our squad it cant be changed until earliest January, is out side of fans control and pretty much Rafa and the teams. Just support the lads whoever it is who goes out there and plays in the top.

  • ghostrider

    I’ve no doubt Rafa would attempt change if he thought there was some kind of long term benefit from it.
    I think Ritchie’s doing fine as he is for the time being and we are in a pretty steady league position because of his position and everyone else’s…..including Perez.

    We’re not set out as any attacking flair team in terms of game mindset and for that reason we need the graft and guile of Ritchie doing what he’s doing.

  • Toonrobbybobson

    If some fans had a choice it would be square pegs in round holes.

    Haters gonna hate. Be same ones lynching Lacelles, Dummett, Perez, Joselu… The ones who play through injury, out of position, signed on cheap with weight of a £30m want on their heads.

  • lukegte

    I think, given the qualities we all see in Ritchie, he can excel behind the striker. It’d be interesting to see if playing another, more pacey winger (to replace the underwhelming, underproductive Perez) would bring something more to the side. Everything Ritchie does now (aside from protecting a full back), he could do centrally and he could be even more effective. Furthermore, it might be of great benefit to the team as a counter attacking unit, given the qualities we have in the middle of the park and the pace out wide. I’m with you on this Jonathan!

  • steve pearce

    Keep Matt and His Magic Hat where he is and play Merino at number 10.

    It amazes me how a manager who is so astute persists with Perez as he was not good enough for the Championship let alone the Premiership. The same goes for Slow Mo and I just can’t get my head around that….

    • Kneebotherm8

      Totally agree,Hayden could fill in for Merino and Ritchie stay where he is.

    • Rich Lawson

      It’s baffling isn’t it,if something isn’t working after so many tries you’d try a change surely ?

  • molend

    I think I understand Rafa’s thinking here. Ritchie/ Atsu/ Aarons/ Murphy out wide, Mitro/Gayle/Joselu as the lone striker and Messi as the number ten. But until he gets a decent 10, what’s he supposed to do? Not sure that playing people out of position is the answer. I was a strong advocate of Coloccini as a holding midfielder, which probably explains why I’ve never offered been offered a job as a manager -yet.

  • Jimmy_toons

    This is why you write for The Mag, and Rafa Benitez is a European Champions League winner.

    • Jonathan Gibson

      Write for the mag? im a fan who goes to home and away games giving a simple opinion, its up to the mag to put anything up as an article from a fan.