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The big Newcastle United achievement that Eddie Howe is wary about celebrating

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe has played down any talk of “celebrating” qualifying for Europe this season – but insists that even achieving a Europa Conference League slot will be a “big achievement”.

Just 12 months ago, Newcastle fans were toasting a return to the Champions League after securing a top four spot in the Premier League table. Back in 2004, a step back from the Champions League to the old UEFA Cup, and third to fifth in the table, was met with objection by some supporters who did not stay behind for the final lap of appreciation for Sir Bobby Robson’s side, a matter that the ex-England boss mentions in his autobiography.

The mood is different on Tyneside these days and the potential step down from fourth is not likely to come under major scrutiny. After so long out of European competition, Newcastle fans will instead be relishing some of the more obscure trips around the continent.

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When asked if he would celebrate reaching Europe, Howe told Chronicle Live: “I don’t feel we had a big celebration last year, it was just game after game, then the season ended. It is a difficult question for me to answer because we are not thinking about celebrations at the moment. We are thinking about points and games, wherever that takes us we will assess at the end of the season.”

The mere fact that Newcastle have clambered back into the top six after dropping to 10th has been impressive enough by Howe’s side. And the head coach firmly believes qualifying for Euorpe would be a major accomplishment in only his second full season.

The head coach said: “I think European football is a big achievement for where we are on our journey at the moment. Especially with the season we have had this year. When you take everything together and you review the season that would be an achievement. From where we were, a big achievement yes.”

During a 30-minute meeting with journalists at Benton, Howe twice documented United’s struggles in December and loosely made comparisons to then and now. With the sun shining, Howe’s team, spearheaded by Anthony Gordon’s youthful exuberance and Alexander Isak’s prowess and power, are arguably are sitting third in the form table ahead of title contenders Liverpool and Arsenal.

Howe said: “It goes in waves, you feel different in different parts of the season. December for us was a tough moment. We had some difficult games in there and we never rediscovered our spark. It took us a while to refind it, once you do you’ve got to cherish that because that is the thing that makes the difference, we have that at the moment.

“Physically we are better. We have found our energy and our best form in terms of our physical output. Our numbers are back to where they were in the early season. There’s loads of different components go into making a good performance.”

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View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/big-newcastle-united-achievement-eddie-29044586

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