Howe: We shot ahead of schedule

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Eddie Howe has admitted Champions League qualification was not even in his thoughts as he embarked upon the new Premier League campaign.

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe insists that Magpies has shot ahead of schedule after they clinched the Champions League spot.

The Magpies secured a top-four finish and a return to the big stage for the first time since the 2002-03 season with a goalless draw against Leicester on Monday evening to complete a remarkable turnaround.

They battled relegation when Howe took the helm in November 2021 but will now play in the Europe next season.

A delighted Howe said: “This wasn’t in our sights at that moment. We had escaped relegation impressively, from the position we were in.

“We were hopeful of improving and staying away from danger and growing the team to a position where maybe we could compete for Europe in a couple of seasons, so we’ve shot ahead of schedule.

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

The club’s Saudi-backed owners have ploughed in excess of £250million in the squad since buying out Mike Ashley, but have received an earlier than anticipated return on their investment.

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

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

“But it feels difficult to celebrate it like you’ve won a league or something like that. It’s right up there, of course it is. It’s an amazing thing at a very special club.

Asked how he would celebrate, Howe added with a smile: “I don’t know how I’ll celebrate. I’ll wait and see. I hope it’s not with a tea and a biscuit.”

 

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