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Howe: Unity with fans has been key to reaching Champions League

22 May 2023
Eddie Howe, Newcastle

Newcastle head coach hails "incredible" supporters for their part in helping earn top-four spot

When Eddie Howe replaced Steve Bruce as head coach 18 months ago, Newcastle United were languishing in the bottom three of the Premier League, five points from safety.

Fast forward to the penultimate match of Howe's first full season in charge and Newcastle have qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2002/03, when they were under the guidance of legendary manager Sir Bobby Robson.

Howe understood the importance of engaging with Newcastle’s huge, passionate fan base, as he aimed to lift the club out of the shadows in which they lingered for far too long - and he paid tribute to them following Monday night's draw with Leicester City that secured their top-four finish.

“If you’re not united with the supporter base, regardless of how you play and what you want to achieve, I don’t think it’s going to work," Howe told Sky Sports.

"The first thing was to show how important it was that we represented the supporters and the people of the city in the right way, and that’s through sheer hard work, determination…all the core things that bring you success in any walk of life.

"We had to show the fan base that we were here to make them proud, if we could, every single game.

Newcastle United v Leicester City - Premier League

"I think the players have done that incredibly well, the challenge only gets bigger to keep that, I think the supporters here for me, even in the dark days of the first few weeks, have been absolutely incredible. They’ve stuck with us, they’ve galvanised the squad this year without a doubt."

Kieran Trippier, Howe's first signing at Newcastle and the club's 2022/23 Player of the Year, said, "It means everything. I took a risk when I first arrived but I always believed in every decision I made.

"We've bounced back well, we've recovered well. The club has been through a tough moment but now we're reaping the rewards."

For Academy graduate Sean Longstaff, Newcastle's return to the big time is a dream come true.

"I can't put it into words to be honest," he said. "If you told us two years ago this was going to happen, we wouldn't have believed you.

"We've beaten Juventus here 1-0 [in the Champions League], you see it on old DVDs. To be a part of this, I'm buzzing."

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