Howe: Newcastle must add strength in depth to compete next season
Newcastle will look all over the world to find the players that will give them the depth they need to compete next season, according to manager Eddie Howe.
A first season in the Champions League in 20 years means an increased workload for Howe’s squad next term, and conversations have already taken place between the manager and club officials over resources during the transfer window.
Injuries have stretched Newcastle thin at times this season despite recording their highest Premier League finish since 2003.
Howe felt his side lacked the quality in reserve to win the game in the second half of Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea that brought the curtain down on a memorable first full season in charge for the manager.
With the restrictions put in place by Financial Fair Play rules, he cited qualification for Europe’s top competition as the critical factor in freeing up the ownership to invest in recruitment.
Still, Howe warned the market may not be kind as the club seek to build a side capable of competing on all fronts.
“Yeah we’ve had discussions (on Saturday),” said the manager. “I don’t think (the budget) is ever outlined because there are so many variables to it, but certainly we know where we stand.
“When you’re sat in my shoes, it’s never as big as you want it to be.
“It’s a difficult one because we go into a lot of competitions next year, so we need the depth. I think this year we’ve been light, certainly in certain areas of the pitch. We’ve carried – in the second half of the season – four midfielders.
“You’re one injury away from a very difficult situation so I think we need a little bit more depth.
“We’re not there yet, you could see that (against Chelsea), but we are suffering from injuries. Certainly that’s a concern for us in that we do need to bolster our resources. We can’t be looking at one or two injuries and we’re in a difficult position.
“In the second half we were stretched and maybe lacking the bench that could have changed the game to win it.”
Newcastle won eight of their 10 league games in March and April to take control of their destiny in the race for the top four, but enjoyed just one more victory in their final five, securing their Champions League objective with a game to spare.
Howe pointed to disruption caused by injuries – key players Joelinton, Joe Willock and Nick Pope were unavailable for the game at Stamford Bridge, whilst Alexander Isak and Matt Targett have also missed significant chunks of the season – as something that must not be allowed to derail the team next term.
The visitors struggled after the break against Chelsea despite having had the better of a first half in which Anthony Gordon gave them the lead, later wiped out by a Kieran Trippier own goal.
“We’ve done it all season, we’ve been hugely competitive,” said Howe. “I don’t think we’ve been an easy game for anybody.
“The challenge for us next year is to maintain our standards and mentality, because when you come to these tough grounds, if you’re not robust enough to deal with the challenge, these can be really difficult games.
“The players that we currently have have to be fit and ready to go (next season). They have to be ready to prove how good we are all over again. We start at zero next season. I think that’s a healthy way to look at it.
“If we can add one or two players that make the difference in the transfer market, that would be good news.
“We’ll have our eyes and ears hopefully all over everything, whether that’s teams getting promoted, relegated; all over the world. As I’ve said many times, the market’s going to be difficult.”