Newcastle Surpasses Expectations to Secure Champions League Spot, Says Eddie Howe.
At the start of the season, Eddie Howe and Newcastle United did not have Champions League football on their radar. However, following a draw against Leicester on Monday night, the Magpies secured a top-four finish, earning them a spot in Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 2003.
When Howe took charge of the team on November 8, 2021, Newcastle languished in 19th place in the Premier League standings. Reflecting on the remarkable achievement, Howe stated in an interview with Sky Sports, “Top four certainly wasn’t our expectation this season. We always had hope, belief, and dreams. However, we didn’t feel prepared for that level. After last season’s relegation battle, our aim was to consolidate and become a better team.”
He further added, “To avoid the threat of relegation and have the opportunity to compete in the Champions League is absolutely incredible. It has surpassed our wildest expectations.”
Newcastle’s Astonishing Journey: From Relegation Threats to Excitement for European Football
Newcastle midfielder Sean Longstaff expressed his disbelief at the team’s incredible turnaround, stating, “If you told us two years ago this was going to happen, we wouldn’t have believed you,” in an interview with Sky Sports.
In October 2021, Newcastle, struggling in the Premier League relegation zone, underwent a £305 million takeover backed by Saudi Arabia. Just thirteen days later, manager Steve Bruce was sacked, and under the guidance of Eddie Howe, who took charge in December, the Magpies found themselves with only seven points from 14 matches.
However, their fortunes took a dramatic turn when they were able to invest £85 million in January’s transfer window, acquiring players like full-back Kieran Trippier, former Burnley striker Chris Wood, midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, and center-back Dan Burn. This injection of talent transformed their season, leading them to an 11th-place finish.
In the current campaign, Newcastle has only lost five league matches, securing a return to Champions League football at St James’ Park for the first time in two decades. Longstaff expressed his excitement, saying, “We’ve beaten Juventus here 1-0 [in the Champions League], you see it on old DVDs. To be a part of this, I’m buzzing. It’s going to be special.”
Despite their success, manager Eddie Howe remained cautious when discussing future transfer plans, downplaying talks of significant summer spending. He emphasized the importance of wise recruitment, maintaining the approach taken in previous transfer windows. Howe acknowledged the upcoming challenges of more games in the next season but stressed the team’s ambition for success, expressing a strong desire to bring silverware to the club in the future.