Newcastle needs to save its season – this is how they do it

Howe’s name was chanted loudly by Newcastle fans before the international break – Alamy Live News/Andrew Yates

There was a clear message when Newcastle United landed in Dubai last week for a warm-weather training camp. With ten games left to play, this was the time to reset, recharge and go again.

Eddie Howe has repeatedly emphasized that there is still a lot to play for between now and the end of May and that there is a collective determination to dispel any negativity. Newcastle are 10th in the Premier League – below the top eight finish they targeted in August – and are outside Europe, as well as both domestic cup competitions.

But crucially, Newcastle remain in the hunt for European qualification, as Howe emphasized during team meetings in Dubai.

His team are just four points behind West Ham, who they host at St James’ Park this weekend, in seventh place with a game in hand. Not all is lost and an arduous and difficult campaign can still be completed successfully.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself

Newcastle squadNewcastle squad
Liverpool will welcome back three key players after the international break – REUTERS/Carl Recine

Newcastle players and staff were able to relax and train hard at the end of their week in Dubai. It was time to switch things up, bond as a team and put everything that happened this season behind them.

Sources have told Telegraph Sport that most of the first few days were spent relaxing, with players encouraged to play tennis, golf and whatever other leisure activity would help them relax. Team bonding events were also organized before intense training sessions on the final three days to ensure fitness levels were maintained.

The first signs are said to be encouraging. Batteries (mental and physical) are charged. There is a renewed sense of unity and purpose. Players are laughing again.

Newcastle threatened to end up in a negative spiral. Defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-final spelled the end of their hopes for another season and their season began to unravel in December when injury problems were more serious.

The fact that three of the injured players – Kieran Trippier, Harvey Barnes and Tino Livramento – are all in contention to return against West Ham has also lifted spirits, despite the loss of 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Miley to a back injury. is playing for the England development team this week.

This season has eroded some of the feel-good factor generated by the Saudi takeover in October 2021. However, Newcastle need a positive playing environment to be at their best and Howe wants everyone to view the next match as the start of a new mini season. than to dwell on the failures of the past.

For now, keep faith in Howe

Eddie HoweEddie Howe

Supporters have not lost confidence in their manager – Shutterstock/ADAM VAUGHAN

It must be stressed – and this is a sentiment shared by all the major power brokers at St James’ Park on behalf of Saudi chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan – that Howe will not be sacked as manager this season.

It should also be stressed that upon his appointment in November 2021 and again the following summer when he signed a new contract, expected to run until 2027, Howe was told he was being asked to oversee a long-term project. That thinking has not changed.

However, a poor end to the season would put a strain on that confidence and there is always a risk that the Saudis, who are in control of every major decision, may feel that a change has been forced on them if their club falls even further down the table . and ends the campaign looking disheveled and out of ideas.

The fact that Howe’s name was sung and chanted during the team’s 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Manchester City before the international break was an emotional and very purposeful show of support for the manager from the matching fans.

Nevertheless, Howe needs a strong finish to the campaign to prevent dissenting voices from becoming louder and more widespread.

Perceptions matter. At the moment, Newcastle is described as a team and a club that has gone backwards since December. Even if he were not removed before May, a poor finish would mean Howe started next season under extreme pressure.

Protect the defense and the goalkeeper

Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka saves from Manchester City player Jeremy DokuNewcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka saves from Manchester City player Jeremy Doku

Dubravka is a downgrade from Pope, but probably requires more protection – Shutterstock/ADAM VAUGHAN

Newcastle have conceded 48 goals in the league this season, which is much more than at the same stage last season. But since first-choice goalkeeper Nick Pope dislocated his shoulder during a 3-0 win over Manchester United in early December, the defense has fallen apart.

Howe’s side have scored 38 goals in the 20 games, across all competitions, in which Pope has been out injured. To make matters worse, centre-back Sven Botman, who had looked unwell from the moment he returned from a knee injury in December, was ruled out for nine months at the start of the international break as he now needs surgery to repair his cruciate ligament . .

Howe has generally continued to play a front-foot and high-energy pressing system, especially at home, but he must find a way to provide more protection to a defense that is not mobile and a goalkeeper in Martin Dubravka who is not. as good as Pope when he comes off his line or saves shots.

He seemed to have found a method in the 3-0 win over Wolves in early March, with Newcastle shifting to a deeper defensive block, happy to give the opposition more possession.

This allowed them to attack quickly on the counter, while ensuring that the same gaps did not appear between the defense and midfield. Newcastle simply don’t have the players to play the way Howe ideally wants. Pragmatism is necessary.

Convince Joelinton to sign a new contract…


Joelinton will have no shortage of suitors – REUTERS/MOLLY DARLINGTON

Co-owner Amanda Staveley has made negotiations with Joelinton one of her priorities. Convincing the 27-year-old to extend a contract that expires in the summer of 2025 is a big moment. Newcastle need to show they can at least keep some of their best players and Howe has stressed how important he is to his team. Announcing a new contract for one of the club’s most popular players would be a huge psychological boost.

Crucial meetings are planned in the coming weeks, with Newcastle pushing to get a definitive answer from the player and his representatives before early May. If he does not sign a new contract, the 27-year-old will be made available for transfer in the summer.

The international break has also allowed the club’s recruitment team to narrow down a longlist of potential summer transfer targets to something approaching a shortlist. But the pool of players Newcastle can look to to improve their squad has been described as “small and difficult” given the budgetary constraints imposed by profit and sustainability rules.

…and appoint a new sporting director

Newcastle will have to sell someone before extravagant spending is allowed. This has made the appointment of a new sporting director an urgent concern. The plan is to bring in someone before the summer with a proven track record in recruitment, both at academic and senior level.

It is also hoped that a compensation deal can be agreed with Manchester United, which would allow former sporting director Dan Ashworth to start work at Old Trafford before the end of his garden leave, which runs until the end of 2025. Darren Eales is leading these negotiations.

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