Howe predicts ‘toughest’ transfer window yet after Newcastle secure Champions League football
Eddie Howe is expecting the next transfer window to be the toughest he has overseen at Newcastle yet following their confirmation of Champions League status.
Newcastle have confirmed qualification for next season’s Champions League thanks to a 0-0 draw with Leicester. A top-four finish is now guaranteed for Eddie Howe’s side, who finished 11th last season.
Their progress this season has been noticeable; only champions Manchester City have lost fewer games and conceded fewer goals. Now, they can look forward to a long-awaited return to European football – of the ultimate variety.
A goalless draw might not have been the way they would have wanted to get over the line. Yet the scenes at St. James’ Park were unsurprisingly jubilant once their fate was confirmed.
Although many have felt they would establish themselves higher up the table eventually thanks to the enormous wealth they are backed by, few imagined them reaching the top four so soon.
After the game, manager Howe confirmed that coming in the top four was not their target when the season started.
Howe told Sky Sports: “It certainly wasn’t top four. I think you always hope, you always believe and you have to dream.
“But we didn’t feel that we were ready for that. After last season’s battle with relegation it was whether we could consolidate and become a better team. To not have that flirtation with relegation and try to give it a go.
“The lads have been unbelievable for me this year I can’t praise them enough. Their attitude, their mentality, it’s just been incredible.”
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Howe has to pick from ‘very small pool’ of transfer targets
Immediately, the attention will turn to who Newcastle can buy in the upcoming transfer window. They will have to strengthen their squad depth to compete in UEFA’s premier continental competition.
However, Financial Fair Play concerns will be lingering over the club. Perhaps with that in mind, Howe has reiterated that Newcastle will only be able to choose from a small group of targets.
He explained: “Our early look into the transfer market, there is a very small pool of players to look at. We have to recruit wisely, as we have done in every transfer window to date. This will be our toughest one.”
Newcastle’s last game of the season, when the pressure will be off, is against Chelsea on Sunday. Then, the hard work will really commence for the summer transfer window.