When Newcastle United secured Champions League football at the back end of the 2022/23 Premier League season, many observers doubted they would have the squad depth to compete in both the EPL and Champions League. But as their recent 4-1 win over PSG has shown, so far, they are managing to cope just fine.
Eddie Howe's Newcastle team are competing in the Premier League and the Champions League. If the recent 8-0 win over Sheffield United in the Premier League, and now the 4-1 win over PSG in the Champions League, isn’t enough to convince people Howe can cope, then it's probably the case that nothing will.
The bookmakers believe Newcastle United are the real deal. In the Champions League, they are now just 16/1 to win the trophy. While in the group betting, Newcastle are the 1/1 favourites to top the group, and 1/4 to qualify for the Round of 16. The EPL winner odds have Newcastle at 30/1 to win the title, and 7/5 to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League again.
When he was appointed Newcastle boss in November 2021, it’s fair to say that Eddie Howe might not have been top of the wishlist for some Newcastle United fans. He wasn’t even the preferred option of the new owners, who first offered the job to Unai Emery. But what Howe has done since arriving at the club will soon see him talked about in the same way as club legends like Kevin Keegan are.
Howe isn’t an egotistical sort of guy. He may not have been happy with only being offered the job after Unai Emery turned it down. But he wasn’t going to let his ego stop him from accepting the job and instead gratefully accepted it, treating the job offer as an opportunity, rather than an insult.
The club started the 2023/24 EPL season poorly. Defeats to Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton came in quick succession. If the domestic form continued in that manner, and then the team also struggled in the Champions League, then parts of the media and some fans would likely have called for Howe’s sacking. Using the old line that he’s out of his depth being trotted out as evidence and for convenience.
Newcastle United haven’t got a squad that can compare to Manchester City or Bayern Munich. A lot of their transfer activity has been aimed at the future, with the club buying players of potential, rather than splashing out big on accomplished stars who cost a fortune.
It’s unrealistic to expect the team to be winning the Premier League or the Champions League in the next two to three years.
The club's owners are planning long-term, not short-term. Fans need to be patient. There will be bumps in the road, and probably more this season. But if the fans continue to get behind Eddie Howe and his team, they can continue to defy the doubters this season and get more wins like the one over PSG, push on in the Champions League and claim a place in the Premier League top four again.