Newcastle hopes to win the Carabao Cup to break a 54-year trophy drought.
Even if patience is a virtue, Eddie Howe is aware that Newcastle supporters are getting impatient with their team’s lack of trophy success.
When the Fairs Cup was paraded through the streets of the city in an open-top bus in 1969, Joe Harvey was the last manager at St James’ Park to own significant silverware.
Howe is not going to minimize the significance of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarterfinal against Leicester since ending the wait has proven beyond an impressive cast of Harvey’s successors, including Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Sir Bobby Robson, and Rafael Benitez.
We realize the game has a special significance, he remarked. “The Carabao Cup has grown significantly in significance for us. We’ll be fully prepared and will do every effort to prevail.
Graeme Souness’ squad fell to Manchester United in the FA Cup semifinals in 2005, but should Newcastle advance to their first domestic semi-final since then, Gallowgate Enders might start to believe he can actually walk on the Tyne.
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When they fell 2-1 to League One Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup third round last Saturday, his much-rotated team appeared very mortal. However, Leicester will confront a totally different starting XI at St James’.
On Boxing Day, Newcastle cruised to a 3-0 Premier League victory at the King Power Stadium, but Howe is still concerned about the threat posed by Brendan Rodgers and Leicester.
Howe remarked, “Brendan’s a very smart tactician. We have a very tough opponent in our way, but psychologically, it would be amazing for us to get to a semi-final, and I’m very, very eager to experience it.
“The final result of the league game at Leicester slightly inflated our performance. Though it was not an easy game, we played well. We are aware of Leicester’s caliber; to defeat them, we must perform at the highest level. To engage the crowd in the game, we’ll need to be extremely motivated and have lots of enthusiasm from everyone.
Without strong teamwork and a distinct streetwise edge, Newcastle would not have advanced to third place in the league, losing just once. However, the eight lineup changes made at Hillsborough highlighted Newcastle’s lack of depth.
This deficiency also helps to explain the recent focus on gamesmanship, especially time-wasting in some matches. Howe took a break between leaving Bournemouth and joining Newcastle, during which he spent time observing Diego Simeone at Atlético Madrid.
The requirement to adhere to financial fair play guidelines makes it difficult to correct the disparity in quality between Newcastle’s first team and backup squad. While the club’s majority Saudi Arabian owners would prefer to make a significant transfer market purchase this month, they have already invested more than £210 million in players like Bruno Guimares, Kieran Trippier, Sven Botman, and Alexander Isak over the course of the previous 12 months. Directors are seriously at risk of breaking FFP standards since their commercial income hasn’t caught up yet.
In some ways, Howe is a victim of his own success. No one really anticipated the team would be competing for a Champions League spot so soon, considering that this time last year he was preoccupied with avoiding falling into the Championship and some on Tyneside were starting to wonder whether the Saudis should have made a concerted effort to poach Rodgers from Leicester.
Qualifying for Europe’s premier competition is the ideal method to increase off-field revenue, but Newcastle risks failing to do so without bolstering the midfield with players of the caliber of Leicester’s James Maddison and Youri Tielemans (both highly regarded at St James’).
Howe stated on Saturday that “We have a very little squad.” “I have to safeguard players for the upcoming games because I have just noticed signs of weariness.”
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Despite his claims to the contrary, Howe won’t be sad to be eliminated from the FA Cup. This is because some of his predecessors, including Benitez and Alan Pardew, created an art form of doing so in order to escape being relegated.
However, Howe will demonstrate that the Carabao Cup offers too alluring an opportunity to pass up despite the possible threat it poses to Champions League qualification by recalling players like Callum Wilson and Nick Pope and engaging Allan Saint-Maximin.
After winning the Carabao Cup in late February to end that 54-year wait, he would love to send his players for warm-weather training on Jeddah’s Red Sea shore. The lack of FA Cup involvement had freed up the March calendar.