Andy Ritchie believes that Newcastle United’s success this season was determined before a ball was kicked.

The former Leeds star who is still a fan and covers them in the media now, believes keeping hold of Rafa Benitez was key for Newcastle.

The fact that he stayed, meaning that the Newcastle Manager had been given certain assurances before he agreed to continue.

Newcastle outspent everybody in the Championship and with both parachute payments and the money raised through selling players, Rafa Benitez has been able to put together a formidable squad at this second tier level.

On top of that though, Andy Ritchie expects Newcastle to spend big again in January.

With around a £30m surplus on transfer trading, it looks certain Rafa Benitez with be bringing in more quality to hopefully ensure promotion and/or prepare for life (again hopefully) in the Premier League.

Ritchie points to the 6-0 thrashing of QPR as a sign of how the Championship is potentially changing for the worst in terms of competition and competing on a level playing field.

Andy Ritchie speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post:

“We also saw Newcastle United win 6-0 at Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday and obviously those teams with the parachute payments and the money, you would think on paper they will always go well.

“You would think that about your Aston Villas and teams like that and obviously Newcastle who have still got some very good players.

“They have done well to keep hold of the manager Rafa Benitez I think. The assurances that he was given before the start of the season are a big plus for them.

“And when you think about QPR having been one of the favourites to go up and Newcastle go there and annihilate them 6-0, it just shows you what the league is becoming.

“Newcastle are one of those teams that will be able to bring people in when the window re-opens.

“They are going to be one of the strong teams and I think they will go straight back up and I thought that before the season started.”