Newcastle United briefing: Matt Ritchie's 'theatrics' and a blast from the past

Matt Ritchie
Matt Ritchie
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It was money well spent.

Matt Ritchie's already repaid a big chunk of the £12million Newcastle United spent on him last summer.

The winger netted his 14th goal of the season in Saturday's 2-1 Championship win over Wigan Athletic.

Newcastle's victory saw them stretch their lead over third-placed Huddersfield Town, beaten by Burton Albion, to 10 points.

Here is your daily briefing:

Matt finish

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Ritchie has been one of the success stories of the season.

And the 27-year-old didn't need to be persuaded to swap the Premier League for the Championship.

United's interest "excited" him, according to manager Rafa Benitez.

“Out of all the players we were talking about, he was the most clear that he wanted to come here,” said Benitez.

“For him, Newcastle was a massive club in a massive city, and he was talking about the fans and the stadium. From day one, he was very excited about the move. Clearly, he wanted to come.”

Meanwhile, Ritchie has revealed why he feels he was denied a "stone-wall penalty" against Wigan.

Ritchie, it turns out, feels his tumble was too "theatrical".

Gayle force

Dwight Gayle has proved to be another astute buy.

Gayle took his goal tally for the season to 22 with Newcastle's opening goal against Wigan.

But there's more to come from the striker, according to Benitez.

Mind the gap

The result at the John Smith's Stadium on Saturday was just as significant as that at St James's Park.

Huddersfield's injury-time defeat to Burton left them with a mountain to climb.

Benitez, however, is reluctant to look beyond Wednesday night's home game against 19th-placed Burton.

"I keep saying it’s a mini-league, and we have three points in this mini league,” said Benitez.

“Hopefully, we can carry on. We’ve started it well this month.

“We have to concentrate on the next game to get a result. It’ll be easier to talk about the gap if we can win the next game, but we concentrate on one game at a time. Ten points is good.”

And finally

Remember Gael Bigirimana?

Bigirimana's Newcastle career promised much when he joined the club in 2012.

But it didn't work out in the end.

And the midfielder ended up rejoining former team Coventry City last summer.

Bigirimana, 23, scored for Coventry in yesterday's 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy win over Oxford United at Wembley.

Follow NUFC writer Miles Starforth on Twitter here