NEWCASTLE: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp’s comment regarding “no ceiling for Newcastle” has drawn a cautious response from his United counterpart Eddie Howe, who said the German needs to be “careful” about such quips.
Following the high-profile takeover of Newcastle by majority owners the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, perception has not necessarily married perfectly with reality on Tyneside, according to Howe.
While many expect United to be a world of extravagance, the head coach revealed that is not the world in which he is working, ahead of Wednesday’s home game with Everton.
Klopp added fuel to that fire last week when he referenced the quotes of Dan Ashworth, the Magpies’ sporting director, on the club’s ambitions.
Speaking prior to his side’s encounter with Manchester City at the weekend, Klopp said: “There are three clubs in world football (Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Newcastle) who can do what they want financially. It’s legal and everything, fine, but they can do what they want. They will say ‘yeah but we have,’ but it’s exactly the fact.
“I heard now that at Newcastle, somebody said ‘there is no ceiling for this club.’ Yes, he is right. He is absolutely right. There is no ceiling for Newcastle. Congratulations, but other clubs have ceilings.”
And while he is not often someone who gets involved in these things, Howe has moved to clarify Ashworth’s words as well as the reality of life at St. James’ Park.
He said: “It’s a difficult one because it’s probably been used in the wrong way. What Dan (Ashworth) meant with his comment was there’s no ceiling to our long-term ambition.
“We have huge plans and want to go to places with huge ambitions, but the reality of what we are working toward and working with, there is a ceiling because of all the things I have sat here and explained every week: Financial Fair Play, we’re still in a training ground that’s been renovated. We’re not living that life that is being discussed; we are living a very different reality.
“Our wage bill is very controlled. We’re trying to do things in a very stable and controlled way. Although we have spent money on players, it has not been extravagant or out of sync with the rest of the Premier League.
“Everyone has to be careful with their comments and opinions.”
While the lack of commercial revenue and European football undoubtedly hampers United in the short term, Howe agrees that the club will be challenging in the future.
He said: “We want to be competitive. We don’t want to be looked at as soft touches, or we’re just turning up to entertain. We want to turn up and win and compete.
“To do that you can’t look at teams and overly respect them too much. You just have to play the game and you have to play the game hard and fair. That’s what we have tried to do in every game this season so we will continue with that method and approach.
“We will just do our thing. We are not too worried about what other people think about us.”
But while United’s feet may be on the ground, some of their rivals feel that the side may break into the top six in the Premier League during this campaign.
When asked whether outsiders’ views of the club’s finances frustrate him, Howe said: “I don’t spend my time worrying about it. When you know the reality, when you know the truth of what we’ve done, certainly since I’ve been here, I can only speak on my behalf and we’ve tried to do things in a very controlled way.
“Certainly the club could have gone a totally different way. I’m sure, with the takeover and everything that comes with that, and everything that was talked about, we’ve done it in the opposite way. We’ve done it in a very cool, calm way.
“Our wage bill has been very controlled. We haven’t splashed the money maybe people thought we would have done initially.
“Yes, the ambition is huge in the long term but in the short term we are trying to improve everything we deliver for our players and we are still working toward that. We are a long, long way from where we want to be.”