logo

Big Champions League verdict delivered as Eddie Howe refuses to answer Newcastle question

Newcastle United have had a lot thrown at them this season: VAR controversy on the continent, a lengthy suspension dished out to their marquee summer signing and enough injuries to last five seasons, never mind just one.

Eddie Howe has never sought to make excuses, however, and his dependable group of walking-wounded players remarkably find themselves on the cusp of the most unlikely European qualifications should they finish the season with a flourish in the coming weeks.

With this in mind, the one question that has started to emerge in recent weeks revolves around whether qualifying for Europe this term would be classed as a bigger achievement than the unexpected success of last season.

Our Chronicle writers have had their say on the matter below.

READ MORE: Callum Wilson’s huge injury boost as number 9 could get action in Premier League run-in

READ MORE: ‘Interesting’ £37m investment will hand Newcastle transfer ‘boost’ as ownership move praised

Lee Ryder

Given the obstacles they have had to overcome this season, qualifying for Europe should be seen as a tremendous achievement for Eddie Howe and his Newcastle United squad, should it happen. Forget the rhetoric of not using injuries as an excuse, as it is a perfectly valid reason why they will finish below last term’s Premier League position and points tally.

Everyone said it would be nigh-on impossible to replicate their fourth-place finish last season, and yet you don’t have to listen very hard to hear people questioning United’s progress in the last 12 months.

There have been some alarming moments without doubt, but I believe Newcastle are in a better place than they were this time last year. Just look at how much better Anthony Gordon is, Alexander Isak is now a top Premier League performer, Harvey Barnes is starting show what he can do and we’ve had the emergence of Lewis Miley and, more recently, Elliot Anderson underlining his real potential.

There are issues to address in the summer transfer window, certainly. but add Nick Pope, Joelinton, Sven Botman, Sandro Tonali and Kieran Trippier into the side which beat Spurs and you’ve got one hell of a team.

However, impressive as it will be, I don’t believe qualifying for Europe would outstrip last season’s achievements. A Wembley final and Champions League qualification immediately after a battle with relegation? That was some transformation and one which will only be beaten when they actually win something.

So while we should not deride what they could achieve in the coming weeks – and it remains just a possibility at this stage – let’s also not underplay just how huge last season was.

Aaron Stokes

There is absolutely no denying that securing any form of European qualification this season would be a ridiculous achievement given the chaos of the last eight months.

Unexpected gambling suspensions, VAR controversy in Europe and more players left on the treatment table than ever before, the fact Newcastle are still even in hunt for any UEFA competitions next term is credit to Eddie Howe and his tight-knit group. (Where are the #HoweOut brigade now?)

BUT… let us not fall into the trap of recency bias. It cannot be forgotten, or understated, how miraculously last season was. A top four finish and a Wembley jaunt in the same campaign will take some beating in the years to come – and despite the struggles of this season, I don’t think this season can be classed as the same success.

Both tremendous campaigns in their own right but last year just about pips it for me.

Andrew Musgrove

If Newcastle United qualifies for next season’s Europa League or Europa Conference, will it be as big an achievement as last season’s fourth spot and subsequent Champions League qualification? There’s a lot of elements to the answer.

On paper, the answer is no. For how could taking a relegation-threatened side into the Champions League be better by a sixth or seventh-place finish a year later? For many, it can’t.

But for me, when you consider everything Eddie Howe has had to deal with this season, I think there is a strong argument that it is indeed a GREATER achievement.

The joy of the Champions League was a very hard experience for the squad – and in truth, it’s a squad that was not built to handle such a competition. Injuries have ravaged the squad and left Howe having to play anything but his strongest side for the majority of the season.

That resulted in some horrendous runs of form – and yet somehow, United are leading the race for The Europa League. That is an achievement worth shouting about.

Chuck in the ban to Sandro Tonali, and the need to stick to Financial Fair Play resulting in no arrivals in the January market, to be in such a strong position is somewhere near to a miracle.

And that’s what swings it for me – what is better than a miracle? For me qualifying for Europe this season has highlighted Howe as a great manager capable of fighting fires on every corner, and it is a bigger achievement than last season.

Stuart Jamieson

Given the obstacles they have had to overcome this season, qualifying for Europe should be seen as a tremendous achievement for Eddie Howe and his Newcastle United squad, should it happen. Forget the rhetoric of not using injuries as an excuse, as it is a perfectly valid reason why they will finish below last term’s Premier League position and points tally.

Everyone said it would be nigh-on impossible to replicate their fourth-place finish last season, and yet you don’t have to listen very hard to hear people questioning United’s progress in the last 12 months.

There have been some alarming moments without doubt, but I believe Newcastle are in a better place than they were this time last year. Just look at how much better Anthony Gordon is, Alexander Isak is now a top Premier League performer, Harvey Barnes is starting show what he can do and we’ve had the emergence of Lewis Miley and, more recently, Elliot Anderson underlining his real potential.

There are issues to address in the summer transfer window, certainly. but add Nick Pope, Joelinton, Sven Botman, Sandro Tonali and Kieran Trippier into the side which beat Spurs and you’ve got one hell of a team.

However, impressive as it will be, I don’t believe qualifying for Europe would outstrip last season’s achievements. A Wembley final and Champions League qualification immediately after a battle with relegation? That was some transformation and one which will only be beaten when they actually win something.

So while we should not deride what they could achieve in the coming weeks – and it remains just a possibility at this stage – let’s also not underplay just how huge last season was.

What does Eddie Howe think?

Eddie Howe was asked the question moments after Newcastle United’s 4-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur on afternoon, telling reporters inside St James’ Park:

“I never think I’m the best one to judge myself. I’ll leave that to you guys, i’m sure you all do that on a regular basis. We just try to do the job to the best of your ability every single day. Through different experiences, you grow, you get better and develop.

“I’m really enjoying the challenges. This season has been challenge after challenge thrown at us. That’s why I compliment not just the players but the staff as well because of how we’ve reacted to things.”

View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/big-champions-league-verdict-delivered-29028428

Scroll to Top