Matt Ritchie surprised a lot of people when he was prepared to drop down to the Championship in summer 2016, only a year after finally reaching the Premier League.
The winger said he was excited by the longer-term project at Newcastle United under Rafa Benitez.
However, a lot of Bournemouth supporters weren’t happy, as they believed it was simply a case of money being the main driving force.
Cherries boss Eddie Howe claiming at the time that Bournemouth couldn’t compete with the wages Newcastle were offering, even though the Magpies were going to be in a lower division.
Some 19 months later, Newcastle and Matt Ritchie are back in the Premier League whilst Bournemouth have become PL regulars.
Both find themselves involved in a very tight relegation struggle involving over half the division and Newcastle will go above 10th placed Bournemouth if winning on Saturday.
One player who has helped fill the gap left by Matt Ritchie is Ryan Fraser, another Scottish international.
The diminutive winger (Fraser is 5ft 4) was signed as an 18 year old back in January 2013 from Aberdeen for only £400,000 and played alongside Ritchie for Bournemouth, although it is only since Ritchie departed for Newcastle that he has established himself in the first team.
Fraser only made five sub appearances as Bournemouth climbed out of League One in 2012/13, whilst Ritchie made 15 starts after joining from Swindon two weeks after his new team-mate has arrived.
When Bournemouth were promoted to the Premier League in 2014/15, Ryan Fraser only managed one goal and one assist, whilst Matt Ritchie got an amazing 15 goals and 17 assists.
Into the Premier League in 2015/16 and whilst Fraser joined Championship side Ipswich on loan, Ritchie found things a little harder, scoring four goals and getting six assists.
Ritchie repeating the process then with an impressive 12 goals and 7 assists last season for Newcastle in the Championship, before then finding it tougher going once again with five assists and that goal against Man Utd so far this season.
Meanwhile Fraser made 19 Premier League starts last season and 15 so far this time, picking up 3 goals and 5 assists in 2016/17 and 4 goals and 2 assists this time around.
Interesting to see how the two wingers match up on Saturday but this piece by a Bournemouth fan below, echoes what many of their supporters are saying, that the Cherries have now got the better deal.
From the ‘Cherry Chimes’
‘Like many AFCB fans I was a bit sad when Matt Ritchie left the club for Newcastle Utd. That was more a homage of what he had done for Bournemouth since his arrival in League One days and his hard work rate.
Ritchie was always AFCB’s flare player and he held that mantle with great distinction during his time at the club and I’ll always think fondly of him, but given a choice today to have Matt Ritchie or Ryan Fraser in AFCB’s squad and I’m more than delighted that Eddie Howe still has the Wee-man under his tutelage.
The visit of Newcastle Utd will bring Matt Ritchie back to Dean Court in a playing respect for the first time since his departure, even though he played against AFCB earlier in the season at St James’ Park. I that game Ritchie was arguably Newcastle’s best player and he rattled AFCB’s defence more than once, even if he did not score.
Ryan is one of the most exciting players at AFCB and he just continues getting better.
His assist and goal record have been on an upward trajectory with two assist and four goals this season in the Premier league. Matt Ritchie has five assists and one goal.’
Undoubtedly, Matt Ritchie hasn’t really hit the heights this season that were expected, so here’s hoping that his winner against Man Utd is the start of a hot spell for him, which to be fair is how it went last season, the odd quiet run, in between some excellent form.