It’s time for another weekend of footy, folks. In advance of Monday’s home finale against Arsenal at St James’ Park, Eddie Howe addressed the media on Thursday morning.
Howe has dropped clues about what’s next for Newcastle in the remaining two weeks of activity, but there were real interest and expectations today as all media members expect legit answers from the coach himself before the ball rolls next Monday. Here’s what went down in the room.
No way this thing could start in any other way, with any other question. Re: the official dodging of relegation and staying in the top flight.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be mathematically safe. It’s great to finally have achieved the objective we set out to do and full credit to the players who, from minute one, have given us everything.”
Sounds like a little accomplishment given everything we know about Newcastle, the new board in charge of the club, etc, etc... but it was a daunting and huge task back when this new era started last October. Newcastle was sitting in a very dark and deep position and avoiding relegation was far from a sure thing. Welp, kudos to Eddie and the lads for pulling off the feat!
About Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson, who both made their comebacks against Manchester City last weekend, Howe clarified their situations and the status of both recently-recovered guys in advance of Monday’s clash with Arsenal:
“Both players would say they’re very keen to start but my job is to make sure I’m doing what’s best for the team.”
“We’ve got to make sure they’re fit enough to last a long period in the game. We’ll make a decision based on the training week.”
There have been whispers out there through the early days of the week speaking, in fact, about the possibility of both Trippier and Wilson making it to the Magpies' starting XI. It feels like Howe is not into any kind of rushing—and we approve, honestly—so we’ll see how the final selection looks by Monday night.
Moving onto more “peripheral” stuff, media members could—of course—not keep it to themselves so they had to ask about the Magnificent Geordie Maradona on loan at Bristol Rovers, Elliot Anderson.
Anderson, who is still to turn 20 years old, got from Wallsend Boys Club to Newcastle at the ripe age of eight. So, yeah, consider him the freshest of Newcastle’s Academy graduates. He has already debuted with the seniors of the first team entering the FA Cup third-round game against the Gunners last season in the 87th minute of play. He moved to Bristol Rovers on Jan. 31 of this year on loan until the end of the season, has thrived with the League Two club, and he has us all excited. Yes, Howe included.
“We’re very pleased for him. We didn’t necessarily want to pitch him into League Two, we felt he was better than that level, but he’s excelled.”
“It’s difficult to go out as a young player and make a difference but he made an incredible difference.”
With only two games left on the Magpies' schedule, here’s Howe on his state of mind and approach to them.
“We’re really keen to end the season with two very good performances.”
“It’s so important we perform in our last home game and leave a good feeling with our supporters for the summer, and whet their appetite for what’s going to come next year.”
Howe also updated everybody on the status of injured Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock, who missed last weekend’s outing against Manchester City entirely not even making the final eligible squad.
“Jonjo has quite a serious calf injury, which is similar to the one he sustained at the start of the season. He’ll be out for a period of time but we expect him back for pre-season with no problems.”
“Joe has had an issue with a tendon in his knee for a while. We thought we’d solved the problem but it’s come back. He needs a period of rest, he’s had a couple of injections, but we anticipate he’ll be fine for pre-season.”
Expect not to watch Jonjo/Joe in any of the two games ahead, but surely stay ready for a pre-season comeback as that’s where their target timelines for recovery seem to be placed.
On long-time injured Ryan Fraser, Howe also provided an encouraging update.
“Ryan returned to training yesterday which is great to see. He trained very well so fingers crossed he’s fine.”
Not a chance media members skipped the topic everybody is interested in knowing more about and getting some intel: the summer transfer plans of the Mags.
“FFP does impact what we can do in the summer but it doesn’t mean we’re totally without ambition.”
“We’re well aware that we have to change the squad and we have to make improvements but it’s going to be a difficult balance.”
Howe didn’t mention it, obviously, but The Athletic has reported that Newcastle will operate under a transfer budget between €70M and €95M for starters, with any other money they can get from selling players added to that figure. About that last detail, The Telegraph is reporting that “Matt Ritchie, Ciaran Clark, Karl Darlow, Federico Fernandez, Isaac Hayden, Jeff Hendrick, and Dwight Gayle are all able to leave at the end of the season if they can find another club.” We’ll see how that evolves in the next few days and weeks.
You can watch the full press conference following the link embedded in this official tweet by NUFC.
Eddie Howe's pre-#NEWARS press conference is now available to watch on NUFC TV.— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 12, 2022
Keep an eye on Coming Home Newcastle as we’ll be bringing you the best possible coverage in advance of Monday’s game against Arsenal, the last of the season on home turf, and the usual thoughts and reports after the final whistle late Monday and come Tuesday.