Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas says Newcastle United need to get the best out of midfielder Matt Ritchie, if they are to survive in the Premier League this season.
The Magpies have lost five of their last six matches, after the 3-1 defeat to champions Chelsea in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Nicholas said that Ritchie is a talented player who has the ability to change games, but urged manager Rafa Benitez to play him in a different position to get the best out of him.
“He’s a talented player, just like Jonjo Shelvey, but they stick him in that wide area,” Nicholas said on Sky Sports News on Saturday (12:07pm).
“You want him to get closer to the strikers or midfield runners, which are going to help the space for his wonderful left foot.
“I just think if Shelvey is not in the team they could find a little bit more of a creative area for him, play him in between the holes and let loose a little bit, but he has to demand and get on the ball.”
Nicholas described Ritchie as “too predictable” for full-backs to defend against and urged the attacker to cut inside onto his left foot more often.
The 28-year-old has been a good player for Benitez’s side this season and has contributed six assists in his 14 Premier League appearances.
He also played a key role for the Newcastle side that won promotion to the top flight and clinched the Championship title last season, scoring 12 goals and delivering eight assists in 42 league games.
Ritchie was criticised by fans for his disappointing performance in the defeat at Stamford Bridge earlier today, as the Magpies extended their poor run to six games without a victory.
Dwight Gayle gave them the lead but Chelsea came back with two goals from Eden Hazard and one from Alvaro Morata.
In other Newcastle United news, here is what Magpies fans had to say about Ritchie’s performance in the defeat at Stamford Bridge.