Newcastle United quarter final draw does not dampen ‘determined’ Eddie Howe’s Carabao Cup hopes
MANCHESTER: If they’re going to do it, Newcastle United will have to do it the hard way.
The PIF-owned football club have gone 69 years without a domestic trophy. It’s 55 seasons since their last trophy of any merit, the forerunner of the Europa League, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Having come within touching distance of silverware last season, the Magpies exacted Carabao Cup revenge on Manchester United, who beat them in February’s final, by piling the pressure on Erik ten Hag with a 3-0 demolition of the Red Devils at Old Trafford. This was just Newcastle’s second win at the ground since the 1970s.
Newcastle’s reward for beating the favourites, Manchester City, then the holders, Manchester United, is a trip to Chelsea in the last eight in December.
No one ever thought this winning trophy lark was going to be easy now, did they?
“We’re determined to try and do well in every game and I think internally that’s how we’re looking at it,” said Eddie Howe upon learning of his side’s task in the next round.
“We’ve prepared as well as we could and we picked the team we felt could win. Now we’ll try and do the same for Arsenal and it’s doing that on consistent basis.”
Before Stamford Bridge and a date with the quarter finals, Newcastle have other business to attend to, as Howe alludes to.
Title challengers Arsenal, themselves dumped out of the cup by West Ham United on Wednesday, head to St James’ Park in what feels like a crucial Premier League encounter on Saturday. Then comes a Champions League trip to Dortmund before this sequences of games ends at Bournemouth, prior to the last international break of the calendar year.
While attentions immediate turn to the Gunners, head coach Howe must be credited for his team selection against Man United, with victory secured without eight key players through injury and suspension – and also done so with rest given to Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson, Bruno Guimaraes and others. Instead, it was players who can barely make the usual matchday 20-man squad, who stepped up and put in performances well beyond their perceived status.
“It was a massive performance from the players. I can’t credit them enough. Some great stories to come out the game from our perspective. The only negative was Matt Targett, that was a huge blow for us early in the game. Even more credit to the players for the response after that moment and some giant performances from the players,” said Howe.
“We debated it for a couple of days but we kept reverting back to the same end point which means it was pretty clear what we needed to do, we needed to try and rest players. But also we needed to not have our players not do anything for a week either – almost shutting a player down for a week isn’t a good idea and we’ve then got to elevate their physical level again on Saturday so it was a mix.
“We wanted to give some players some minutes but shortened minutes. Some of the subs were pre-set before the game. Anthony Gordon, Joe Willock – we needed to get them off the pitch. It’s going to be a key thing for us managing minutes and keep the squad as strong as possible.”
As Howe mentioned, the eight players on the unavailable list became nine on Wednesday, with Targett being forced off just a minute into his second start of the campaign.
Howe explained: “I’ve got no idea why it happened or how it happened really. It’s bizarre, early in the game, he’s obviously not fatigued and he stretched his leg up to tackle and the minute he hit the ground he was waving to us on the side. I knew he was in trouble. It looks like a hamstring which would be a huge blow.
“The only hope for me is he wasn’t really running at the time. Sometimes they’re the worst ones when you’re in an explosive action but still he was in pain and he’s struggling to walk now. It doesn’t look good.”