At the start of the season, Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United had no expectation of playing in the Champions League. However, after securing a top-four finish by drawing with Leicester on Monday night, the Magpies will be in Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 2003. When Howe took the helm on 8 November 2021, Newcastle were 19th in the Premier League table and had seven points from 14 matches. Through Howe’s leadership and the team’s ability to consolidate and become a better team, as well as the £85m spent in January on full-back Kieran Trippier, ex-Burnley striker Chris Wood, midfielder Bruno Guimaraes and centre-half Dan Burn, Newcastle have lost just five league matches this season, bringing Champions League football back to St James’ Park for the first time in 20 years.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said he was delighted with Newcastle’s position and that Howe had done one of the best jobs in the Premier League. Ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville added that Howe had played a blinder and that the owners had been bold but measured in their approach to spending. Howe himself was quick to play down any talk about big summer spending in the transfer market, saying they have to recruit wisely and that they don’t want to go far away from what they’ve done.
On the last day of the season, Newcastle face Chelsea and a win would take them to 73 points, which would be their highest Premier League total since 1996. Nolberto Solano, who played in Newcastle’s last Champions League match – a 2-0 loss away to Barcelona – said that everyone must be so proud of what has been achieved. The challenge now is for Howe and Newcastle to continue their success and bring silverware to St James’ Park.