Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Savvy Salomon's Presence Made Huge Difference to United in Second Half of Season as Ritchie Looks to Build on 13th Spot

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Savvy Salomon's Presence Made Huge Difference to United in Second Half of Season as Ritchie Looks to Build on 13th Spot

Article excerpt

SALOMON Rondon's presence in the Newcastle United side helped the Magpies transform the way they played during the second half of the 2018/19 campaign, believes Matt Ritchie.

The 29-year-old forward excelled during his time on loan at Newcastle from West Bromwich Albion, scoring 11 goals and providing seven assists in 30 Premier League starts.

But, more than that, Rondon also handed the Magpies a focal point up front; not only is the Venezuelan astute at holding up the ball, he can also expertly bring his team-mates into play.

Once Miguel Almiron arrived on Tyneside in January, and United switched to playing with a front three of the Paraguayan, Ayoze Perez and Rondon, the Magpies were far more of a threat in attack.

That is one of the key reasons why Ritchie believes Newcastle performed brilliantly during the second half of the campaign, pulling away from the bottom three, securing safety with three games to spare, and then ultimately finishing 13th.

Given that United also started the season with a 10-game winless run, Ritchie feels the Newcastle squad deserve immense credit for the fashion in which they ended the campaign.

"I think the second half of the season we've been brilliant - as we were last season," Ritchie told the club's official website.

"Obviously there were a few additions to the team in January, and I think Rondon has made a huge difference to us - not just his goals, but the way we can get up the pitch with him.

"The second half of the season has been really good. I think to compete with the top six is difficult, so that's unrealistic.

"As I've said before, the teams below the top eight are in a league of their own. To finish 13th is fantastic, and hopefully we can keep building."

Newcastle ended the season in spectacular fashion, hammering already-relegated Fulham 4-0 at Craven Cottage, in front of thousands of United fans who had travelled down to west London to enjoy the final away game of the campaign. …

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