Isaac Hayden has named Matt Ritchie as Newcastle’s most underrated player in a recent discussion with Toon supporters.
Speaking on via the club’s latest ‘Zoom Army’ feature, Hayden cited the Scotland international’s impact in the 2016/17 promotion season, his ability to always ‘give 110%’ and his reliability – being able step up ‘at the most difficult times’ and play in a few different positions.
Here is what Isaac said when asked who is the most underrated player in the current squad:
“Matt Ritchie….I don’t think he gets as much credit as he should do. Simply because of what he’s done for the football club.
“He came in for quite a large fee and there was quite a lot of expectation on him when he first came in the Championship. He produced a fantastic season.
“Whenever he’s fit, he plays most games and he always gives 110%.
“He produces moments at difficult times and I think with Matt, you can rely on him at the most difficult times.
“You know what you’re going to get, and I think that’s massive in a player.
“ Sometimes a lot of people don’t think about it, and at times when you need a performance he always produces.
“For me, as a fellow player, it gives you confidence.”
Interesting comments and perhaps surprising to some given many believe Matt Ritchie is now past his best and on the way out as a Premier League player.
Ironically, Hayden himself could easily be in with a shout of being our most underrated player.
Ciaran Clark deserves a mention, although Bruce dismissed suggestions he is an ‘unsung hero’ last week as he preferred to label him as a vital part of the team whose efforts don’t go unnoticed.
Hayden is 100% right about one thing – Ritchie was a cornerstone of our success back in 16/17 and you could argue we would not have been promoted without him.
His achievements mirror the likes of Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Andy Carroll etc back in 09/10 but he doesn’t really get the same respect as those that he deserves.
While his best days are probably behind him, he is still a thoroughbred leader who remains a vital part of the dressing room. Ritchie’s work ethic has allowed him to become versatile which is a credit to him as if he was still only capable of playing as a winger, he would have probably been shifted on by now.