Matt Ritchie reflects on his move to Newcastle after a summer of transfer speculation

Matt Ritchie.
Matt Ritchie.

Matt Ritchie says he’s happy to see Bournemouth high up the Premier League table – and he’ll be even happier if Newcastle United can climb the league.

The two clubs meet at St James’s Park tomorrow.

It was my decision to leave Bournemouth, because Newcastle was the place I wanted to be – and it’s the same now.

Matt Ritchie

Ritchie joined Newcastle from Bournemouth in the summer of 2016 after helping the team establish itself in the top flight.

Eddie Howe’s side are sixth in the table after an impressive start to the season, while United are 17th after getting their first win over the campaign last weekend.

Ritchie is pleased for his former club, though he has no regrets about leaving them.

And Ritchie – who was a summer target for Stoke City and Middlesbrough – insists he’s still 100% committed to Newcastle.

“The way they’ve started the season really pleases me – I couldn’t be happier for them,” said Ritchie.

“To see so many people I left behind doing well, that’s great

“It was my decision to leave Bournemouth, because Newcastle was the place I wanted to be – and it’s the same now.

“It’s a challenge I have relished taking on and I still am. For all the good times I had at Bournemouth, not for one moment have I regretted the move.

“I take an enormous amount of pleasure watching them Match of the Day and seeing lads I spent so much time with doing so well.

“We were such a tight group at Bournemouth. The manager, all the staff, everyone involved, I was there for years with them, so that club is still very much part of me.

“It makes me so proud to sit back knowing I played my own part in getting a fantastic club to where they are today.

“Some players have obviously left, but those who remained have gone to another level, and it’s great to see.

“I was brought up a Portsmouth fan, but I will always be a Bournemouth fan too – apart from when we play them of course.”

A second-half goal from substitute Ayoze Perez gave Newcastle a 1-0 win over Watford last Saturday.

“I think you could see from the lads on the pitch that there was a desire to get the points,” said Ritchie, who has started all but one of United’s 11 league games.

“Yes, in the first half we probably rode our luck a little bit, and they probably had the better of the chances, but certainly in the second half I thought we were strong – we were resilient.

“They had some good chances again on the counter-attack, but I think once we got the goal we never really looked back.

“You could see the mentality of the lads, and that’s what we need week in, week out.”

Ritchie scored 12 goals during United’s Championship-winning season.

The Scotland international netted the goal which secured the club’s top-flight status last term.