NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe is determined to make sure Newcastle United finish their campaign on a high, despite the Magpies already securing Premier League safety.
Newcastle take on Arsenal at St. James’ Park this evening looking to take their tally to 46 points, which would beat last season’s mark of 45 and 2019-20’s, which was 44.
The Gunners’ visit to Tyneside is followed up by a trip to relegation-threatened Burnley on the final day — and Howe is hopeful his players will not let their season, as well as all of their hard work, go to waste.
“Any target or objective we can pass is a good thing,” Howe said.
“The most important thing for me is we finish the season well and are professional right until the end and we show our best selves in the next two games.
“The previous two games have been difficult as we know, we’ve played two world-class teams. (It has been) Great for us in terms of knowing where we are and where we have to improve. These next two are slightly different, still tough games, but we want to go out well this season.”
That’s definitely a sentiment that seems to be echoed in the dressing room, too, with Kieran Trippier wanting to send the fans away happy for the summer, in what is the final home encounter of the season.
The England international said: “It’s a massive occasion, the last home game of the season. The fans have been unbelievable since I arrived.
“We need to look back, to criticize ourselves, but we look back to January and the steps we’ve taken since then, the results that we’ve had, we’re building,” Trippier said. “We’ve played back-to-back two of the best teams in the world so we’ve got to be proud of our performances before the last two results. We need to forget about Man City (5-0 loss), two big games coming up, two different teams fighting for different reasons so we need to match that.
“Arsenal are fighting to get in the top four, I want to help Tottenham obviously and then Burnley staying up.
“It’s two different types of matches and they’re going to be up for it so we’ve got to make sure we match that.”
Having taken over the club when it was at the foot of the Premier League table and needing to break top-flight records to stay up, things looked bleak for Howe and Newcastle on arrival.
However, things now look rosy at the club with co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi taking to social media to publicly thank the head coach for his efforts, after Leeds United’s loss to Chelsea meant the Magpies could no longer drop to the Championship.
On Twitter, Ghodoussi said: “When all odds were against us, when everyone doubted us, we united and forged ahead. Tonight is the result of that hard work.Thank you Eddie, you have been incredible, thank you to the coaching staff, our squad and everyone at the club, and of course our fans.”
Has Howe been thanked privately, too?
“Yes, I’ve had contact with the owners but I have contact with the owners regularly, especially at this time of year as we build and plan for lots of different things — the training ground and transfer windows etc,” he said.
“They’re happy with what has been achieved. The main goal we had when coming in has been done, so everyone connected with the club, the owners included, deserve a huge amount of credit for what’s happened. It’s very much a team success and I’m very keen to point out that everyone has contributed to that.”
Meanwhile, Howe is expecting positive progress in relation to the new deal negotiations between Newcastle and midfielder Sean Longstaff.
“I expect a positive resolution for Sean, yeah,” said the head coach.
“Fingers crossed. It’s very close to being done. I’m actually day-to-day in charge of that but fingers crossed we can get it over the line.”