NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe is keen to make sure standards do not drop, despite the fact Newcastle United have all but mathematically secured their Premier League status.
Victory over Crystal Palace on Wednesday saw the Magpies climb to 40 points, often deemed the magic number when it comes to Premier League relegation battles.
And while Howe is yet to openly admit he believes his side are safe, he is still desperate to make sure they treat every game between now and the end of the season with the respect it deserves.
“First and foremost, we have standards to maintain,” said the Newcastle head coach ahead of the trip to Norwich City on Saturday.
“We’ve had a way of playing and delivered consistent performances in the main. We don’t want to let those standards drop or let that feeling go.
“Every game we have between now and the end of the season is very difficult because we’re playing teams that have something to play for but as we do, we’re playing for Newcastle.
“Not for one second will our preparation drop, nor will our expectations. We’ve got to make sure the players are ready to give their all.”
Images and videos have flooded social media this week of Public Investment Fund chief Yasir Al-Rumayyan having a kickabout with fellow owners Jamie Reuben, of RB Sports & Media, and Mehrdad Ghodoussi, of PCP Capital Partners, on the St James’ Park pitch.
When asked about it, Howe welcomed his bosses enjoying the moment — and even joked they might be needed in the Premier League run-in.
“You need to be as one as a football club. From top to bottom, you need to be pulling in the right direction. For me, that’s the only way you can build towards success,” he said.
“Great that the owners are enjoying the experience of owning a football club — it is a very stressful and difficult business, the moments of happiness are actually quite rare,” Howe added. “It was great to see them play. They’ve got some skills, haven’t they? They’ve got to be careful they don’t get the call up soon.”
Expectations have shifted at Newcastle in 2022.
Having entered January in 19th place, with just 11 points on the board, the rest of the season looked set to be a relegation dogfight.
However, nine wins from 13 games has seen Howe’s Magpies pull away from the pack at the foot of the table, and into lower mid-table safety.
Are Newcastle exceeding expectations?
“In terms of the position we’re in, we didn’t necessarily think we would have been where we are now. Maybe not exceeding expectations in terms of our performances because I believe in the team, the players and in our way of working,” Howe said.
“I was always positive, always felt we could have achieved safety but I think the run of results we’ve been on has maybe been quicker than expected.”