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Newcastle United star claims finishing 13th is ‘fantastic’ and ‘unrealistic’ to compete with top 6

2 months ago
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With two assists on Sunday, Matt Ritchie ended the season with two Premier League goals and eight assists.

This equalled his best top tier season so far, when the winger was also directly involved in 10 goals for Bournemouth back in 2015/16 – scoring four and six assists that PL campaign.

Last season it was eight with Newcastle, three PL goals and five assists.

An enjoyable way on Sunday for everybody involved with NUFC to finish off the season.

Matt Ritchie revealing that they had worked on that corner kick routine for Shelvey’s goal the day before Fulham, Rafa’s pre-game work paying dividends, just for a change.

On the wider picture, Matt Ritchie declares ‘To finish 13th is fantastic’…

With all quotes released by the club you have to beware of the spin, as otherwise you would believe that Matt Ritchie is backing up Lee Charnley’s claim that this has been a ‘good’ season, one in which Newcastle were knocked out of the League Cup by lower league opposition, won one FA Cup game, as well as fighting a relegation battle for eight months.

I think it is pretty obvious that in reality Matt Ritchie means ‘to finish 13th is fantastic’…’after being bottom of the table in November with no wins in the first 10 (11 if include League Cup) games’, as well as the serious failure of Mike Ashley in refusing to back Rafa in the transfer market.

Matt Ritchie also states: ‘I think to compete with the top six is difficult, so that’s unrealistic. As I have said before, the teams below the top eight are in a league of their own.’

What I would say about the top six, is that clearly nobody is claiming this could/should happen overnight. However, no reason why Newcastle can’t build towards that if showing ambition and making correct decisions, such as no-brainers ones like keeping Rafa and Rondon.

The bottom line is that form over the past 28 PL games puts Newcastle eighth in the table, seven points behind the form of the top four over those 28 matches. Whilst over these last 16 matches, Newcastle are fifth on form, only one point off the top four.

The clubs that ended the season seventh to tenth this time are Wolves, Everton, Leicester and West Ham. At the very least Newcastle should be expected to compete with all of this quartet and to finish outside the top ten next season should certainly be seen as failure for NUFC.

The club gets similar/better revenues than those four clubs and significantly more than those others who finished bottom half this past season.

Finishing 13th next season certainly wouldn’t be ‘fantastic’ but it could well be a miracle if Mike Ashley ends up forcing Rafa Benitez and Salomon Rondon out of the club and we yet again descend into total chaos.

Matt Ritchie speaking to official club site:

“We worked on it (corner kick routine for Shelvey’s goal v Fulham) on Saturday in training,

“There was a lot of space on the edge of the box and we managed to exploit it.

“Everyone knows the quality Jonjo’s got, so it was good to see it come off.

“We work on set-pieces a lot, and we haven’t really had that much success this season, but we’ve had two today so we’re happy with that.

“To score twice so early I thought was nice – we were two up in 12 minutes I think it was, and we never really looked back.

“They had some spells in the first half where they were dangerous, with a couple of crosses coming into the box, but we defended them well.

“The third goal (Ritchie corner to Schar) was so important. It was brilliant – it killed the game. 3-0 made it really difficult and we managed to see it out really well from there.

“I think the second half of the season we have been brilliant (see tables based on final 16 and 28 games HERE) – as we were last season.

“Obviously there were a few additions to the team in January, and I think (Salomon) Rondon has made a huge difference to us – not just his goals, but the way we can get up the pitch with him. The second half of the season has been really good.

“I think to compete with the top six is difficult, so that’s unrealistic.

“As I have said before, the teams below the top eight are in a league of their own.

“To finish 13th is fantastic and hopefully we can keep building.”

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