Newcastle boss Eddie Howe he accepted Champions League Qualification hadn’t even crossed his mind when he started his new Premier League campaign.
The Magpies finished in the top four in their first 0-0 draw since the 2002-03 season and are back on the big stage. Leicester To wrap up an extraordinary spin on Monday evening.
They were in serious danger of relegation when Howe took the helm in November 2021, but will now be standing shoulder to shoulder with the continent’s elite next season.
A pleased Howe said: “This was not in our sight at the time. We had impressively avoided relegation from our position.
“We were hopeful to improve and stay out of danger and get the team in a position where we could compete for Europe maybe in a few seasons, so we shot ahead of schedule.
“With that comes great challenges for the future, but if you are in these moments and there is such an opportunity, you should seize it.”
The club’s Saudi-backed owners have spent over £250m on the roster since purchasing Mike Ashley, but have seen an earlier-than-expected return on their investment.
Newcastle reached the Carabao Cup final in February only after losing to Manchester United at Wembley, but they were not denied a spot in Europe’s best table.
Howe said: “The challenge is that there is no reward. It’s an incredible achievement, an incredible amount of where we’ve come in such a short time.
“But it’s hard to celebrate it like we’ve won a league or something like that. Right there, of course it is. Something incredible in a very private club.
When asked how he would celebrate, Howe added with a smile: “I don’t know how to celebrate. I’ll wait and see. I hope not with tea and biscuits.”
St James’ Park was bouncing at the final whistle, and Howe, his crew and their players put on a lap of honor, although the mood at the Leicester camp was very different.
While Saturday’s win over West Ham and Everton’s home draw against Bournemouth will keep them on goal difference, the Foxes remain on the two-point margin.
When the Magpies’ goalie stopped, they didn’t collect a shot until the stoppage time. Nick Pope He kept Timothy Castagne’s volley off to prevent them from achieving an invaluable victory, but boss Dean Smith challenged his approach to safety first.
Smith said: “I’m not apologizing for the way we’ve set up today. We haven’t kept a clean slate for a long time, and I think that’s why we’re at this point.
“I had made up my mind on Thursday when I watched Newcastle play Brighton, one of the best football teams in the Premier League this year, and they smashed them in those first 20, 25 minutes.
“We had to keep a clean slate and hope, because today we had to make sacrifices with our team page and then we had to hope we were still in the game.
“It happened almost exactly as we planned but the goalkeeper made a really good save in the 90th minute, I think it was our only shot.
“If it’s too little, too late, who knows? But now we got it to Sunday.”