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Matt Ritchie heaps praise on his gaffer

Ritchie told Sky Sports: “He’s very calm - win, lose or draw - it’s the same approach the next week in training. The way he sets us up is, I think, the reason we’re always in games. He deserves an awful lot of credit. For sure [the players want him to stay]. It’s important he stays because, if the club want to keep pushing on and progressing, then obviously you need a good manager that’s been there and done it. He’s got all of that. So it’s very important we keep hold of him, so that going forward we keep building as a football club. He’d be the perfect man to lead that.

“Everyone knows it’s such a big football club, with a great following and it’s a club that has got a great history. Hopefully this era can be an era of success, too. Obviously it’s early days, we need to take it one step at a time. We’ve come back up from the Championship to the Premier League, and now we need to keep building.

“I remember when we had a spell just before Christmas and every pundit, every paper, was saying that we would go down and that we haven’t got enough. But in the group, we always knew that we were going to keep working hard and give ourselves a good chance. The games throughout the season have always been decided by one goal, or very close games - and we’ve never really been rolled over. Obviously if you are like that then you’re always in the game, you’re always going to give yourselves a chance to win games, and the first bit of the job is now done.

“We’ve secured safety now, but we’re certainly not done. We want to continue to work hard, win games and pick up points. The game on Monday night is a game we hope to take points from, and we’ve prepared really well this week, training’s been very good - and now it’s all about our mentality and desire to climb that table. We can go above Everton if we beat them - and we want to do that.”

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