Matt Ritchie will be out of action for two months, which is a massive blow for Newcastle.
Ever since he joined the club in 2016, he’s been crucial to our success. Even in the Premier League, where he isn’t as technically gifted as some of his rivals, Ritchie stands out because of his infectious energy and work ethic. Without him, we’re a different side.
But what do his teammates think about him? Well, Jonjo Shelvey summed up Ritchie’s character perfectly.
When asked about the challenge that forced him off on Wednesday, Shelvey told the Chronicle: “I just saw the coming together. I think they’ve watched it back and I think it was a red card.
“He’s got a nasty gash on his leg. He’s not in there at the minute – I don’t know where he’s gone – but he wasn’t too happy to be fair. He’s an angry little man, anyway.
“He’s a big character. Knowing Matty, he will be back training tomorrow because he just can’t sit still.”
Sadly, Shelvey was wrong. Ritchie wasn’t back in training, and he now faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
But the description ‘angry little man’ seems absolutely spot on. Matt Ritchie is a player who kicks the corner flag after scoring. He kicked Christian Atsu on the backside during the win against Tottenham. He sometimes gets caught kicking the opposition and getting a booking.
But Ritchie is able to channel this anger into good. His tireless running unsettles the opposition. His attitude forces the players around him to do better. He demands the best from his teammates. He doesn’t wear the captain’s armband, but you’ll often see Ritchie barking instructions at his teammates.
His injury is a massive blow to Newcastle, but hopefully someone can step up in his absence.