Matt Ritchie has admitted that things did get ‘overheated’ after having a ‘difference of opinion’ and a ‘lively discussion’ with Jamaal Lascelles – however he insists that there bust up was ‘nothing personal’ and completely forgotten about within minutes.
Ritchie also opens up about one of Rafa Benitez’s best qualities – his ability to ‘never change’, whether we win 4-0 or lose 4-0.
There had been rumours just a few weeks ago that the pair had to be separated after a heated row in training, so it’s great to hear Ritchie clear that matter up – with it becoming obvious that it was not what several sections of the media hyped it up to be.
It’s a fascinating interview from Ritchie, who not only set the record straight, but also offers a brilliant insight into his character off the pitch – with him admitting that he can be ‘annoying’ and ‘loud’, but only because he’s passionate about winning and pushing himself.
Here’s what he’s had to say, lifting the lid on his row with Lascelles to begin with:
“We had a difference of opinion and a discussion about it – a lively discussion!
“Jamaal and I are two of the more vocal characters, very similar in the way we train and conduct ourselves.
“It was something which got overheated but it was nothing personal and 20 minutes later, everything was fine.”
Ritchie then talked about his personality and attitude to training, giving a brilliant insight into his character – admitting that he can ‘wake up on the wrong side of the bed’ but is just passionate about winning:
“Yes, I can be angry. In your face? You could say that too. Narky? Yes – and annoying!”
“We’re all different characters and I’m just passionate about winning,”
“Like everyone else, I can wake up on the wrong side of the bed and I’m an angry little Scotsman but some days, I want a laugh and a joke.”
“The lads know me,”
“I’ve been the same player since day one. Jonjo Shelvey will say to me, ‘Matty, please, just for today will you not shout?’. I’ll try it for 10 minutes but more often than not, I’ll fail.
“Sometimes they just ignore me and are thinking, ‘Just shut up’ but it doesn’t stop me because it makes me demand levels from myself.”
“I’ve always been loud, always been vocal. It’s just my personality and I’ve never been one to shy away from voicing an opinion.
“I like to think I am honest and open with those around me and if you are demanding the highest standards from team-mates, your own standards have to be right up there as well.
“The way I am means I have to raise my own levels. But I am not the only one in this group who demands. Everyone does – just in a different way to me.
“Jonjo, for example, is very relaxed and calm but there are a lot of leaders here.”
Finally, Ritchie made an interesting admission about Rafa Benitez, stating that he ‘never changes’ and always looks at the bigger picture – being something that’s key to keeping the team grounded and focused whether we win or lose.
“We could win 4-0 at Palace or lose by the same scoreline and you could not tell the difference when he walks in on Monday morning,”
“The gaffer never changes and that’s one of his best qualities. He’s always looking at the bigger picture knowing one result is neither the making of us nor the end of the world.
“It’s been a tough start for us, we’ve struggled to pick up points and while performances have been decent, that’s not good.
“We’re well aware we need to get that first win under our belts but there’s no alarm, no panic.”
A brilliant interview.