The return of Matt Ritchie on Sunday was a welcome one for Newcastle.
The 31-year-old was one of five changes for the Magpies, but his return arguably had the biggest impact.
Ritchie started as left wing-back as part of a back five, a role he first played under Rafa Benitez.
This was Ritchie’s first appearance since his bust-up with Steve Bruce, where he allegedly called his manager a ‘coward’.
But Ritchie let his football do the talking on Sunday, putting in a wonderful performance.
He was his all-action self, setting the tempo and showing the heart and desire that has always endeared him to Toon fans.
Ritchie played a role in both goals, and proved why he must remain in the team from now until the end of the season.
We need to show fight and commitment to stay in the Premier League, two qualities that Ritchie portrays every time he steps onto a pitch.
“The bare minimum every week is to work hard and play with a desire and a mentality to try and win the game,” Ritchie told the club’s official website.
Ritchie is bang on with his comments. Sadly, this kind of attitude hasn’t been evident in a lot of Newcastle’s performances this season.
A lot of fans have been pleased with Ritchie’s return and subsequent comments, and a portion of supporters believe he should be captain.
While giving him the armband over Jamaal Lascelles is extremely unlikely, having another leader on the pitch is going to be key for us in the battle to avoid relegation.
Just because he doesn’t have an armband doesn’t mean Ritchie can’t lead by example.
That’s what he does every time he plays, and hopefully his teammates follow suit.