Newcastle United need to reignite in the Premier League to maintain their challenge for a top-four finish, according to manager Eddie Howe ahead of Saturday’s clash at defending champions Manchester City.
Six successive victories in the league heading into the new year had Newcastle cemented into the top four but they have won only one of their last seven and are struggling for goals.
Last weekend’s League Cup final defeat by Manchester United was a bitter blow too and things will not get any easier at The Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Newcastle have fallen four points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and although they have two games in hand, they need to regain their momentum, according to Howe.
“In the league we have stalled a little bit. We have missed a couple of games and haven’t won the games that we wanted to so we need to reignite that,” Howe told reporters on Friday.
“As much as we didn’t want it to be, the cup final was a big distraction for us. We want to attack everything and finish as high as we can.”
Defeat by Manchester United came on the back of a 2-0 loss to Liverpool, but Howe said he has been impressed by the attitude of his players this week.
“We were bruised on Sunday and Monday, but very quickly it turned to Manchester City and return to work really,” he said.
“The passion and the motivation, I didn’t feel it could increase within me but I think it has.”
The build-up to the City game has been clouded by Amnesty International calling for the Premier League to re-examine Newcastle’s Saudi Arabia-led takeover. Newcastle’s takeover by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) was rubber-stamped in October 2021 after “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi government would have no control of the north-east club.
However, a U.S. court case concerning the PGA Tour and LIV golf this week described Newcastle chairman and PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan as a “sitting minister of the government,” casting doubt on the independence of the club’s ownership.
Asked about the situation on Friday, Howe said: “I’ve not seeked any assurances to be honest. I’ve not given it too much time. I’m aware of the headlines, but I haven’t really invested in the details behind it.
“I have Manchester City to prepare for and that has taken all my attention.”