Eddie Howe says he is targeting an “incredible experience” with Newcastle after his team progressed into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday night.
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Kieran Trippier’s delightful cross in the second-half forced Bournemouth defender Adam Smith to put through his own net after a difficult game for the home side.
Clearly, expecting any team to be at their best straight after the World Cup break would probably be asking too much, so not all too many definitive conclusions can be taken from the performance. Howe’s team selection, however, certainly sent out a message, with all five of Newcastle’s World Cup representatives starting the game.
Unlike in years gone by, the cup competition look as if they will be taken seriously.
What has Howe said about the Carabao Cup?
Speaking after the win at St James’ Park, Howe said (via Keith Downie): “We’re now going into the business end of the competition – knowing you’re a couple of big wins away from hopefully an incredible experience.
“But we can only take it game by game. We’re delighted to be in the draw for the quarter-finals.”
How important is a cup run for Newcastle?
For all the progress in the Premier League, there is simply nothing like a cup run.
While not to jump the gun too much, a deep run into a competition and a first semi-final experience since 2005 would offer the kind of excitement the relentless format of the League just does not offer.
Howe has consistently spoken of his desire to see his squad take Newcastle’s rather infamous trophy drought as a “driver” rather than a “burden”.
Undoubtedly, Champions League qualification could change the game for the club in terms of players they could potentially attract, but to be on the verge of winning something – anything – at long last would surely conjure the feelings fans across generations have been yearning for.
There’s a long way to go of course and a raft of Premier League teams in the draw, but few would bet against this Newcastle team after a stunning 2022.