Small mar­gins mak­ing a big dif­fer­ence to Toon ...and Ritchie wants ‘fan­tas­tic feel­ing’ to stay

The Chronicle - - Nufc -

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

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