Matt Ritchie insists the Newcastle United squad have consigned the transfer window to history - and stresses there have been no after-effects from a tumultuous summer at St James’ Park.
Manager Rafa Benitez spent the majority of the window voicing his frustrations at the paucity of Newcastle’s business, while he ended the summer without signing the left-back and No 10 he wanted to bring through the door.
However, United did make seven summer signings - including retaining Kenedy and Martin Dubravka, who excelled on Tyneside during the first half of 2018 - and Benitez himself has declared that his squad is “stronger” than last season.
Ritchie - who was a target for Stoke City during the window, with Benitez keen to bring Andros Townsend back to St James’ Park from Crystal Palace - shares his manager’s verdict that the United squad has improved since last term.
The Scotland international believes competition for places exists in every position, and thinks that over time this Newcastle squad may be considered an upgrade on the team who finished 10th last term given the additions of players including Salomon Rondon and Yoshinori Muto.
“The transfer situation has no impact at all now because the window is closed,” Ritchie said.
“It’s the same as at any football club; the manager wants to strengthen the squad. There’s competition for places right through the squad anyway.
“The manager wanted to add a few more, and he’s been able to bring some good players in.
“I feel like we’ve got a really good squad now. We’re as strong - if not stronger - than last season, so the players know there’s competition for places, and that the standard of performances has to be high.
“We’ll continue to work hard with the training we do, and hopefully we can continue to pick up points.”