Eddie Howe has vowed to do everything in his power to ensure Newcastle’s latest battle for Premier League survival is the last they have to wage.
The Magpies will play in next season’s top flight after staging a hugely-impressive recovery to drag themselves from the foot of the table and ease their way into a position where they could yet clinch a top-10 finish with a final-day victory at Burnley on Sunday.
That fightback was aided in no small part by the takeover in October which prompted Howe’s recruitment and a £90million-plus January investment and – with ambitious plans in place for the future – the 44-year-old is hoping the seemingly-annual flirtation with disaster on Tyneside will now be consigned to history.
Asked if this was the last season during which the club would have to worry about relegation, Howe said: “I certainly hope so.
“There are no guarantees in football and that’s what makes the game so beautiful because you never know what’s around the corner.
“We have ambitions to improve, so I hope that we’re not in this position again where we’re fighting through the season.
“But the Premier League is so difficult, the league examines you in lots of different ways. The competition is fierce, everyone will have different aims and dreams.
“All I can pledge is that I will do everything in my power to make sure we come back a stronger team. But there’s no guarantee on anything.”
What is certain is that the Magpies will finish the 2021-22 campaign a stronger team than they started it, a fact illustrated graphically by Monday night’s thrilling 2-0 victory over Arsenal in front of an ecstatic home crowd at St James’ Park.
Ben White’s own goal and a late second from £35million Brazilian Bruno Guimaraes, who – having been smothered by Liverpool and Manchester City in his last two appearances, was allowed by the Gunners to dictate the game to devastating effect – secured a win which was thoroughly deserved.
Significantly, it was Newcastle’s first victory against a top-five side this season, after they had lost the previous nine and took them to 46 points, their highest total since they returned to the big time in 2017.
Supporters who endured 14 and a half years of under-achievement under Mike Ashley have been re-energised by the new lease of life breathed into the club by Amanda Staveley’s consortium, and while there is discomfort over the spotlight on the club’s Saudi Arabian majority owners and the Gulf state’s human rights record, excitement over what the future might hold is mounting.
Asked about the part Staveley and husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi had played in the recovery, Howe said: “They care, they care deeply.
“They care about the players, they care about the staff, they want to be involved, they want to be seen, they want to be actively helping and they were that way right from the start.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe