LONDON: Eddie Howe believes Newcastle United’s Premier League fate will be decided by results in their next three matches.
The Magpies take on Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leicester City, and Crystal Palace in succession at St. James’ Park, straight off the back of four away games on the bounce.
And while Newcastle have eight games left and are nine points clear of the bottom three, Howe thinks the next three fixtures will go a long way to deciding whether they stay a top-flight side or drop to the Championship.
The head coach said: “This is a massive period coming up for us. We were very aware that this period we are coming out of was very difficult. So many games away from home, coming to places like Tottenham Hotspur, are very difficult matches.
“We are pleased to return home, where our form has been very good. But we know we have a massive spell. Games we need to maximize, we need the crowd united, we need to make the atmosphere as intense as we can for our opponents.
“This is going to be a massive spell, which will go a long way to deciding our fate,” he added.
Newcastle’s 5-1 loss at Spurs ended an unlikely sequence of long-distance, consecutive away days, with 1-0 defeats to both Everton and Chelsea following a 2-1 victory at Southampton.
In that time, the gap to the bottom three has only been closed by one point, from 10 to nine.
While Howe remains clear in his assessment that Newcastle remain deep in a battle to remain in the division, he has also urged fans, players, and everyone connected with the club to remain calm.
He said: “I think it’s important for me, the team, and everyone connected with the club, because these results can happen against the quality of opposition we have today.
“That doesn’t mean my expectations for this team are not high — and I made that clear to the team. I don’t think there is any point going hard, or very negative, we have to be positive.
“We have to focus on what’s to come — and what’s to come is a key week for us. We’re in a position that we maybe didn’t expect to be in, but if there is a positive to come from this, it’s just a little jolt and reminder that we can’t get ahead of ourselves.
“We can’t think we’re better than we are, in this current moment we have to battle for every point, it won’t be given for us,” Howe added.
With safety within touching distance — a points tally of 35 points has kept every team in the division in all but one of the last 10 years — has a touch of complacency crept in?
Howe said: “You don’t know what the players are feeling, you can’t control how they think. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We need to be very calm but use the pain of this in our next games ahead.
“We need to deliver the performances that have made the difference for us, the solid, aggressive running that we’ve become accustomed to.”