Newcastle players have set themselves an ambitious Premier League target for next season as the newly-rich club prepares for a big summer transfer window
Image: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)
Newcastle stars have pledged to target European qualification NEXT season.
Toon boss Eddie Howe has been playing it cool insisting the Geordies are on a steady rebuilding programme which would peak in 5-8 years, despite being funded by a super-wealthy Saudi state wealth fund. But Brazilian midfielder, and player of the season Joelinton has let slip the private target of Howe’s reinvigorated squad, which Howe wanted to keep secret so it doesn’t become a burden.
However the United chief IS impressed that his squad have collectively set high targets as they head to Burnley. Howe says he will demand that the club has a proper crack at the cup competitions and rivals the best of the rest in the Premier League.
Howe will have a transfer budget of around £60m plus proceeds from player sales with the ownership group happy to go for steady growth rather than an immediate splash of cash. Howe said: “Joe is a good guy and he is positive and optimistic. And I think we should be. I have no issue with that and I want my squad to be confident and ambitious.
“They have to believe in big things and we have to set targets internally. I would rather these things stay internal than external because we have to also manage expectations. We don’t want to play under an unnecessary burden or unnecessary pressure that hampers our performance. I would prefer to keep things in-house.”
Howe has pointed to other clubs who have spent hundreds of millions chasing the elite – without singling out Everton – saying plenty have got it wrong and wasted money going too quickly. Instead he will continue to build a “culture” based on strong team spirit and good characters, with no signings being made unless personalities show the right attitude. Signing a striker is a priority with Ivan Toney, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Darwen Nunez topping their list.
Asked what progress would be next season, Howe said: “I’d love to do well in the cup competitions. We will take them seriously next year and we will love to do well with them. Improvement is key, and I know that’s not a line you necessarily want to hear, you want to hear a headline answer, but I can’t give you that.
“We took over a team that was in a really difficult position, January was important and we’ve improved the squad, we need to improve the squad again, we can’t stand still. But we’re competing in a league that is so difficult, we have no divine right to finish above anybody. We have to earn that.”
Newcastle’s turnover is a third of the elite clubs meaning they can’t match the wages and fees paid by the top five or six clubs, even with Saudi backing, citing profitability rules. But Wolves and Leicester, who are ahead of the Geordies in establishing themselves near the top, are not out of reach. Howe added: “You could pick individual clubs and say, ‘Why can’t we?’ And I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that. But there are clubs on a journey that have been on their journey a lot longer than we have and have invested vast sums of money to get to where they are.
“There are a couple of clubs below us as well, who have invested vast sums of money, and that shows money doesn’t guarantee you anything. It’s all about the quality and your work, and that includes recruitment, and also the culture you’re trying to set at the club. Hopefully we’re on a good path, but we’ve got to stay on that path.
“We spent a lot of money in January and every window, how much you spend knocks your ability to then spend in the next window. So money was made available in January obviously because of our league position and we desperately needed to find a way out of the difficult situation we were in. What I would say is that I don’t think a lot of the players we were linked to in January were genuine targets. There was a lot of false information being spread about players we’ve bid for.”
Joelinton is targeting the Brazil World Cup squad with the backing of Newcastle boss Eddie Howe. The £40m star has been transformed this season, converting into an attacking midfield enforcer and helping the Geordies to Premier League safety. Joelinton emerged from two difficult years when he was regarded as a striker who could hardly score, to become Newcastle’s player of the season.
Howe held a special chat with Joelinton to discover his ambitions and is championing him to win a place in Qatar alongside team-mate Bruno Guimaraes, who is Brazil’s play-maker. Howe said: “I think he can go all the way. The national team should be a very clear target for him – I think he’s good enough to force his way in. With a World Cup year as well, that’s a brilliant thing for him to try to look at. But first and foremost I need to focus on the day-to-day and that’s Newcastle and making sure he comes back and he’s in our team.
“We’ve had discussions about his thoughts. It’s nice to get to know the players in every way and what their dreams and ambitions are, it’s important that I know that, and he is a motivated lad. You can see that from how he plays, so we hope he can get there.”