Matt Ritchie has had a couple of rough seasons on Tyneside these past two years. He’s been plagued by injuries while his once cemented place in the starting eleven has become a thing of the past.
Earlier this year, he had a long spell out of the team. In his first appearance in over a month, Ritchie came on late against Wolves, who equalized soon after. Bruce made some ill-advised comments after the match about Ritchie not getting instructions on the pitch fast enough.
That week, the famous bust-up between the two occurred and Ritchie didn’t make another appearance for over a month. However, he came back in our draw against Tottenham after the international break and was a key cog in our recent 4-match unbeaten streak.
里奇’s passion has been on full display and likely played a big role in this campaign’s turn of fortunes. However, twice this season the Magpie mainstay was linked with a move back to Bournemouth.
There was talk this summer of Matt returning to the Cherries but that speculation gained plenty of momentum earlier this year. He was reportedly close to rejoining Bournemouth during the winter window.
However, Steve Bruce pulled the plug feeling he may at some point need to call on the 31-year-old’s experience in the second half of the campaign. It turned out to be a prescient call from the head coach as Ritchie has returned to some of his former glories over the past month.
The winger turned wing-back has given an interview to天空运动where he admitted that he felt his Newcastle career was coming to an end earlier this season:
“If I’m honest, yes, I thought my Newcastle career was over. As a kid I went on loan at a young age, when I went back to Portsmouth I could’ve stayed there longer but took the decision to move on and go and continue to play. I’ve always backed myself to get back up the leagues.
“It was difficult, it was probably my first spell in my career where I’ve been fully fit and not involved, so that was difficult mentally and physically, how to adapt and adapt my training. They’re challenges I’ve not had before.
“It’s about managing your body so you are ready when called upon, training throughout the week at the intensity which is going to be needed for the weekend, and when you’re not involved for a long period that can be difficult.
“I feel like I’ve come through it, learned a lot in the last six months and I’m pleased with how I’ve reacted personally to those challenges.”
里奇touched on the obligation he feels to this club as one of the core group of players:
“We all have a duty to lead and try and perform, try to help one another on the pitch and off it. I do feel like a leader but we all have to take that responsibility for one another too.”
里奇’s future will likely be under the microscope again this summer, especially considering the season he has had. However, he’s been an outstanding servant to Newcastle United and hopefully this season won’t be his last.