On Monday, the club released a set of quotes from Jamaal Lascelles to the local media.
The Newcastle Captain declaring:
“We’ve proved people wrong again…
“Another season where we have been written off but we have proved people wrong.
“Pundits seem to like going against Newcastle, saying ‘oh, they’re not good enough’ or ‘they haven’t spent the money’, but we have proved you don’t need to spend the money if you have got a good group of players in place.”
Those quotes are eerily similar to ones from Jamaal Lascelles a year earlier, when Newcastle also found safety with a late run of form after a season of relegation struggle.
Now on Tuesday, the club have put out to the local media strangely similar ones from Matt Ritchie.
The winger claiming ‘I’m not sure we get the credit we deserve. I think everyone involved at this club deserves credit. I understand the glory days of Keegan and Robson, I understand that everyone keeps looking back.’ Ritchie also stating “We’re seen as not spending money, but spending money is no guarantee. We’re competing.”
Not sure about exactly ‘everybody’ at Newcastle United deserving credit but certainly Rafa Benitez and his squad overall do.
However, it is all a bit confusing as to what exactly the message is that Matt Ritchie and Jamaal Lascelles (and the club…) are trying to push out?
Fans, media and neutral have given the Newcastle players loads of credit, credit for having avoided relegation, with a team that has proved better than a sum of its parts.
The message from the club, Ritchie and Lascelles appears to be that we are supposed to think this team has achieved something more than relegation. However, getting to only 38 points after 34 games surely isn’t anything more than avoiding relegation and that is in large part down to Fulham and Huddersfield being shocking this season and Cardiff eventually proving to lack anywhere near the quality to stay up, unless Brighton somehow manage to finish below them.
Yesterday, amongst the Jamaal Lascelles quotes was also ‘We know we can get better. That doesn’t mean by signing players, it just means by keeping on listening and learning from the manager…When we gain a bit more experience, we’ll get better.’
I think pretty much all Newcastle fans rate Matt Ritchie and Jamaal Lascelles and think they have done a great job and their workrate is excellent BUT it is quite another thing in terms of agreeing with everything that they say.
After two relegation struggles with the basis of the promotion team/squad of 2016/17, unless there is a significant injection of quality this summer, then it will be another relegation struggle next season.
Matt Ritchie refers to Newcastle fans supposedly keep looking back at the days of KK and Sir Bobby and whilst we all aspire to seeing that again, no Newcastle supporters are demanding or expecting that any time soon.
However, what they do see as a minimum is not fighting relegation every season, to have proper investment in the squad so Rafa Benitez can bring in better players and bring them early in the summer so they can integrate into the team and be ready for the new season.
Newcastle United are top eight in terms of revenues and that should be reflected in league placing as well, especially with Mike Ashley having been lucky enough to have Rafa Benitez approaching the club and offering his services in March 2016.
With better players added Rafa would have Newcastle United in the top eight next season and he and his team would be getting all the credit that they deserve.
Matt Ritchie quotes via The Shields Gazette – Tuesday 16 April 2019:
“I’m not sure we get the credit we deserve.
“I think everyone involved at this club deserves credit.
“I understand the glory days of Keegan and Robson, I understand that everyone keeps looking back.
“I’m not saying that we don’t aspire to that, obviously we do.
“We want to be the best players and the best group we can possibly be.
“The manager will always say he wants to strengthen and the players are the same, we want to be competing for our places and we understand that’s football.
“You want to finish as high as you possibly can, individually and as a team.
“But you can’t take anything for granted in the Premier League.
“From the top six down, anyone can be 12th or tenth or eighth or 18th.
“It’s the bounce of the ball here or there.
“We didn’t win a game for the first ten games of the season and everyone wrote us off.
“Everyone had us relegated, no chance, but now, all of a sudden, we look like a good side.
“We hadn’t performed at the levels we know we can in the two previous games (defeats to Arsenal and Palace) but I think against Leicester we were brilliant.
“The game plan was absolutely bang on and we couldn’t have carried it out any better.
“Defensively, from the front, from Ronny (Rondon), Ayo (Perez) and Miguel (Almiron), we were brilliant.
“The way we defended in the last 20 minutes, against good players, stand-out players that are being touted for England, was fantastic.
“In the first ten games of the season, everyone was writing us off. But we knew we were so close to good performances and good results, we just needed a little bit of luck and a little bit of the rub of the green.
“If we got that, we knew we could get three points rather than a point or not getting anything.
“Tottenham at home on the first day of the season seems like a lifetime ago now.
“The season brings you so many ups and downs, so to get to this point, on 38 points, is fantastic.
“We’re looking up and hopefully we can continue to perform the same way we did at Leicester.
“The key thing now is that we can’t slacken up and take our foot off the gas.
“Yes, we look like we’re okay, but we certainly won’t be letting up because we want to get as many points as we possibly can.
“People talk about not wanting to be in this position again, but that’s naïve when you’re talking about the Premier League,” added Ritchie.
“It’s a frustrating one. I understand, and as players you want to achieve great things, but you have to be realistic.
“Other than the top six, every team can be in the relegation mix. Everton spent £100m last season, but with ten games to go, they were still in trouble.
“From the top six down, anyone can be in a relegation battle, anyone.
“Whether they get a bad start or a bad run, you have to be realistic. The top six or seven might have that bit more, but the rest of the league is so close.
“This year, there’s a little bit more of a gap, but so many clubs can end up in trouble.
“We’re seen as not spending money, but spending money is no guarantee. We’re competing.”
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