Small margins making a big difference to Toon ...and Ritchie wants ‘fantastic feeling’ to stay
MATT Ritchie says there is a “fantastic feeling” around Newcastle United at the moment – but stresses it is crucial that the Magpies ensure that continues for the rest of the season and beyond.
The Magpies have already exceeded Rafa Benitez’s 40-point target with five games of the campaign remaining following Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal.
That was United’s fourth straight win – with the side having collected 16 points from the last 21 available to move up to 10th place in the table.
And Ritchie has praised his teammates for turning the club’s fortunes around, citing the Magpies’ ability to win tight matches by a one-goal margin in recent weeks as the key reason behind their success in 2018.
Ritchie, who scored Newcastle’s winner at St James’ Park on Sunday, said: “At the start of the season, 40 points was sort of the target that everyone looks for.
“It’s a credit to everyone involved throughout the whole season. Even when results weren’t quite going our way, we were never rolled over or went down without a fight.
“It’s always been one-goal margins. We’ve been on the right side of those one-goal margins in the last six weeks or so. It’s been a really good time. Hopefully, we can
continue that throughout the rest of the games. It’s been a really good feeling.
“We’ve won four on the bounce. There’s a good feeling. We need to continue that.
“We need to keep the city happy. It’s a fantastic stadium and fantastic place to play. The good feeling about the stadium, we need to continue that.”
The Magpies will not play again until Monday, but could be mathematically safe by the time they kick-off against Everton – if third-bottom Southampton lose to Leicester City on Thursday evening.
But Ritchie and the United squad are not content with Premier League survival alone; he insists the Magpies will fight to finish as high up in the table as possible, before aiming to push on again next term. “It comes from everyone working together with the same mentality and same desire,” Ritchie said of the squad’s togetherness.
“We’ve got a fantastic group, pushing each other every day in training.
“The standards are high, and that’s how it needs to be to get the best out of each other and as a team. It’s a really positive camp.”
Matt Ritchie scores in the win against Arsenal