The Newcastle United players can now take their Christmas break with the knowledge that they are on top of the table. However, that could change with immediate effect when the Boxing Day fixtures kick off.
52,000 Geordies will flock to their temple, St James' Park, to cheer on their side, hoping for the late gift of three points.
Squaring up to Sheffield
Opening his thoughts on the game, as a frequent starter, the former Bournemouth man said: “It will be a tough game, as is every game in the Championship.”
Ritchie continued his analysis of The Owls: "They’ve got a good squad and some really good players. They were close (to promotion) last year, and I’m sure that their aim this season is to be up and around the top part of the table. So they’re going to be a good team."
Moving on from the opposition, when speaking to NUFC TV, the winger also mentioned the volatility of the Championship and how the Mags have been at the brunt of that: “Football changes quickly. Two weeks ago we’d been beaten three games in a week and then a week on and we’re top of the league and looking very forward to the next one."
He continued, “It’s good to have a lot of games and I feel like momentum is good at the minute, so hopefully we can continue with that.”
Just before the season started, Ritchie decided to make a drop down to the second tier of English football to be an integral point of Rafa Benitez's revolution at Newcastle United. He summed up how it has being going for him and the squad after the relegation:
“The season is really flying by, to be honest. It feels like I only arrived two minutes ago. Game after game is good though. Players love playing games and they’re coming thick and fast."
Promotion through the title
Right now, Newcastle are on course to go up when the season comes to the end, however there is only one point that separate the current leaders from second place Brighton Albion.
On the table position, Ritchie said: “We’re top and we’d like to stay there now until the end of the season.
He furthered the explanation by showing that there is certainly a plan in place and each player knows what they must do, “we have to continue to work as hard as we have so far. The details, we have to continue carrying them out and putting what we work on in training into practice on a Saturday, and a Tuesday or whenever we may play,"
He added, “We want to make sure our performances stay high. If we continue performing the way we have been we know we’ll pick up points."
There is a small gap between first and second place but there is now nine points between the top and third place.
He stresses the importance on this, but notes how they are not just settling for promotion: “Extending the gap between ourselves and third place is great, but we want to win the league as well. We’re in a good position now and we need to continue the work that we’ve done and improve on it.”