Once favourites for relegation, it’s been some turnaround for Newcastle United who hit the significant 40 point mark this week following their 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
That was the Magpies’ third straight victory and Eddie Howe is keen to see his side maintain the recent standards they’ve set as they head into the final weeks of the season.
“We have a way of playing that has delivered consistent performances,” said Howe.
“We don’t want to let those standards drop and let that feeling go. Not for one second will our preparation drop and our expectations of the players won’t drop.”
With their Premier League status all but guaranteed, Newcastle fans will inevitably be looking ahead to next season and dreaming about what the team could achieve. Most will at very least be hoping for a top ten finish and perhaps a push towards the division’s top seven, however the general conscious is that perhaps anything more would be out of reach so early into this new era at St James’ Park.
Yet, the Toon’s phenomenal record under Howe, particularly since the turn of the year shouldn’t be overlooked.
While they sit in 11th in the table at present, they’ve won an impressive 29 points since 1st January. Remarkably, only Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool can better that return during the same period.
A lot of their success across that time has been built on solid defensive foundations, and again it’s only Liverpool and champions Manchester City who have conceded fewer goals than Howe’s men (13).
To a man, Newcastle’s squad is largely inferior to many of the top sides they’ve outperformed in 2022 so far, which is a testament to the fine work Howe has done since arriving at the club.
In different circumstances, there’d be an acceptance that over a longer period of time, say a full campaign, Newcastle would more than likely drop off from as high as second and into a more realistic position in the table. However, the key difference in this scenario is the financial mite the club now has under their Saudi Arabia-led consortium.
Howe has already illustrated a capacity to squeeze every bit out of his Newcastle side to have them performing beyond the level they should be.
If the club can bring in only a handful of elite players this summer, which is almost certain to happen, then their form this season indicates that they’d have the ability to skip more steps than initially expected en route to becoming one of the Premier League’s powerhouses.
For the reasons highlighted above, there’s a real chance that Newcastle could threaten teams at the top of the table and compete for Champions League places as early as next season.