Home News Eddie Howe: Newcastle can secure top-four finish with early push

Eddie Howe: Newcastle can secure top-four finish with early push


Newcastle boss Eddie Howe admitted he didn’t even think about qualifying for the Champions League when he embarked on his new Premier League campaign.

The Magpies secured a top four finish and a return to the big arena for the first time since 2002/03 with a 0-0 draw against Leicester on Monday night, completing an outstanding turn.

They were in serious danger of relegation when Howe took over in November 2021, but will now be shoulder to shoulder with the continent’s elite next season.

Enraptured, Howe said: “At that moment, it was not in our field of vision. We impressively managed to avoid relegation from the position in which we were.

“We were hoping to get better and stay out of danger and grow the team to a position where we could probably compete for Europe in a couple of seasons, so we fired ahead of schedule.

“With that comes big challenges for the future, but when you’re in those moments and there’s an opportunity to do something like that, you have to take it.”

The club’s Saudi-backed owners have invested more than £250m into the team since the purchase of Mike Ashley, but have seen an earlier-than-expected return on their investment.

Newcastle reached the League Cup final in February only to lose to Manchester United at Wembley but were not denied a place in Europe’s top table.

Howe said: “The difficulty is that there are no trophies. It’s an amazing achievement, an amazing thing in terms of where we’ve come from in such a short amount of time.

“But it’s hard for me to celebrate like you won the league or something. It’s right there, of course. It’s an amazing thing in a very special club.

When asked how he would celebrate, Howe added with a smile, “I don’t know how I will celebrate. I will wait and see. I hope it’s not with tea and biscuits.

St James’ Park bounced after the final whistle and Howe, his staff and players made a lap of honor, although the mood in Leicester’s camp was very different.

The Foxes are still two points clear of safety, although a win over West Ham on Saturday, combined with Everton’s draw at home to Bournemouth, would have allowed them to keep goal difference.

They didn’t take a shot until stoppage time when Magpies goaltender Nick Pope held off a volley from Timothée Castaigne to rob them of a priceless win, but boss Dean Smith was defiant with his safety-focused approach.

Smith said: “I make no apologies for the way we set up today. We haven’t kept a clean sheet for too long, and the reason we’re here is because of that, in my opinion.

“I made my final decision when I watched Newcastle play Brighton on Thursday, one of the best Premier League football teams this year, Brighton, and in the first 20-25 minutes they beat them.

“We had to keep a clean sheet and hope because today we had to sacrifice our squad and hope we were still in the game then.

“It almost worked exactly as planned, but the keeper made a really good save in the 90th minute, which I think was our only shot.

“If too little, too late, who knows? But now we’ve moved it to Sunday.”


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