The Leeds v Newcastle match has sold out almost three weeks before the clash on Sunday 20 November and former star player Andy Ritchie, can’t wait for the visit of the current Championship leaders.
Describing the two clubs as ‘giants of football’, Andy Ritchie reckons that Newcastle and Leeds are the two biggest clubs in the Championship.
Whilst Leeds have made mistake after mistake since relegation over a decade ago and even spent time in the third tier, the Leeds fan and former player believes that Newcastle pulled off a minor miracle in keeping Rafa Benitez at St James Park.
Ritchie says that NUFC ‘pulled out all the stops’ to keep Rafa and of course a free hand and backing in the transfer market were top of the agenda.
In fact four months ago, some five weeks before the season started, Andy Ritchie described the signing of Matt Ritchie as unbelievable and suggested Dwight Gayle could be ‘unstoppable’.
Not a bad judge with Matt Ritchie arguably Newcastle’s player of the season so far and Gayle the Championship’s top scorer.
Andy Ritchie 3 July 2016:
“One or two are making their moves. Look at Newcastle United with Matt Ritchie. I actually can’t believe that Bournemouth wanted to let him go as he has been one of their best players in the last few seasons.
“Newcastle have also made a move for Dwight Gayle at Crystal Palace and on his day, he can be a match-winner and he has a real eye for goal and when he is bang at it, he can be unstoppable.”
For older fans of both clubs, the idea of Leeds and Newcastle playing in front of big crowds outside the top division is nothing new. Newcastle’s spells in division two in both the late and early eighties saw them playing their Yorkshire rivals a number of times.
The game later this month sees Leeds with their first sold out league game in six years, should be interesting.
Andy Ritchie speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post 4 November 2016:
“I think there’s an expectation at Leeds brewing a little bit with the recent results and obviously everybody wants to see Newcastle because they are flying high.
“They have got a manager there that they didn’t probably think they were going to get or keep but they have done, and the game with Leeds is a game that has got a lot of interest now.
“Leeds and Newcastle are two giants of football so there’s a big call for it and I think now the Leeds fans have been given a little bit of belief.
“In terms of the sizes of clubs in the Championship, Leeds and Newcastle are right at the top.
“They are both in the wrong division and since their relegation Newcastle have gone about it in the right way.
“They (Newcastle) are not happy about it, obviously, but they have taken a long look at it and said, right, it’s happened, and they have done their best to keep the manager (Rafa Benitez) there and pulled out all the stops to keep him.
“I think that was the right thing to do because they want to bounce back straight away and at the moment it’s looking like they are going to do that.
“I know it’s a long season but you’ve got to look at the way they are playing and they have obviously still got the parachute payment. so if they feel they are a little bit insufficient in areas then they can always strengthen in January.”