Matt Hails Magpies' Unity
Written by Tom Easterby
After helping Newcastle United extend their winning streak to five games, goalscorer Matt Ritchie says the Magpies are beginning to get into their stride
Rafa Benitez's side beat Ipswich Town 3-0 on Saturday, with Ritchie blasting home the third to seal the points for the hosts at St. James' Park.
The result means that United are now unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions.
And the Scotland international reckons that Benitez's men have established a "good bond" within the camp, which has helped them rise to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table.
"Everyone's getting to know each other, and it's that time in the season now where people are really learning their jobs," the 27-year-old told nufc.co.uk. "(We had) a lot of new bodies and ideas at the start of the season and maybe not everyone was quite on the same wavelength, and now I think that we're all coming together.
"Personally for me, I feel like I know what Dwight's going to do, I know what Jonjo's going to do, I know what Jack's going to do, and everyone's learning with the players around them.
"(There are) relationships all over the pitch with everyone - whoever plays throughout the whole squad, we train together and have different partnerships in training, and I feel that's really shown in the way we attack.
"That's what a good team does. It's about relationships on the pitch, and working off each other. I think that we've got a good bond, and a good blend throughout the team. We've got a bit of everything in the team as well."
A brace from Ayoze Perez, whose first strike came inside the first minute, put the Magpies in command in front of a crowd of over 51,000, before Ritchie rifled in the third 12 minutes from time.
"The early goal helped, but to be honest the first half was a little bit bitty, and we didn't really get going," said Ritchie.
"But we controlled the game throughout, I'd say, and it's really pleasing to get the goals in the second half, because that just put them out of sight then.
"I'm really pleased. We've had some good results of late. Going back a couple of weeks, we had a big game here and got beaten against Wolves, so it's nice to continue the run and show that we've obviously learned from that little bit of complacency, if that's what it was. It was a good three points, and a really positive day.
"We just need to hang in there. It's a long season and it's early days. We've managed to stay calm and grounded with our feet on the floor and remain focussed. With all of that, we'll hopefully continue to win games."
Ritchie's strike in front of the Gallowgate End was his third goal of the season, and afterwards the winger admitted that he was somewhat relieved to have returned to the scoresheet.
"I've been beating myself up a little bit. I've had a couple of chances of late - I had one against Norwich late on and I had one in the first half as well that I probably should have done a bit better with," he said. "I was delighted to get the goal in the end, but most importantly the three points and put them out of sight."
Next up for United is an EFL Cup last 16 tie at home to Preston on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick-off).
And Ritchie is hopeful that Newcastle can continue their fine recent run of form when Simon Grayson's men arrive in town in midweek.
"All our games are big. Obviously the league is a priority, but we want to go as far as we can in the cup competitions as well, and we've got the squad to do that," he said.
"I'm really looking forward to that. We'd go into the last eight if we win against Preston, so it's a great opportunity for us."
That's what a good team does. It's about relationships on the pitch, and working off each other. I think that we've got a good bond, and a good blend throughout the team. We've got a bit of everything in the team as well.