Eddie Howe has admitted Newcastle have “massively over-achieved” this season and will have to spend big in the summer if they are to match it next time around.
The Magpies secured a return to the Champions League after a 20-year absence when Monday night’s 0-0 draw with Leicester guaranteed a top-four finish ahead of Sunday’s final-day trip to Chelsea.
That represents a significant upgrade on the club’s target at the start of the campaign, and it will require further investment from their Saudi-backed owners this summer to ensure they can compete on all fronts.
Asked if he was looking forward to that challenge, head coach Howe said: “Ask me in a few months. I don’t know if it’s something you look forward to, but the dynamic will have changed for us.
“I think we have massively over-achieved this year for where we were at the start of the season and to keep over-achieving – and that’s what we’re going to have to do to match the expectation – is going to be our biggest challenge.”
Newcastle have already spent in excess of £250million on players in the three transfer windows since Amanda Staveley’s consortium bought out Mike Ashley in October 2021, and while they have bought astutely and been richly rewarded, Howe is conscious that task will become more challenging.
They will shop this summer in a different market to the one the 45-year-old might have anticipated. The club has long-standing interest in West Ham’s Declan Rice and Leicester’s James Maddison with both tipped to be on the move this summer, although Rice in particular will have suitors, some with even deeper pockets, queuing up.
“For me, it’s more about the role they can fulfil in the team – whether that’s viewed positively or as a marquee signing, then great.
“I’m not in my mind thinking, ‘We have to have one of those players that ticks that box for the supporters’. As much as I’d love to do that, it’s about finding the right player in the right position who I think makes us better.”
For all Newcastle’s new-found wealth, Howe has been at pains throughout his reign to stress that unbridled spending is simply not an option, and that the club will have to continue to invest shrewdly.
“I still don’t know what my budget is at this moment in time, but there will have to be some expenditure. It will have to be controlled. It will have to be under FFP restrictions, which we have worked under and will continue to work under. They are definitely impacting us and what we will be able to do.”
Howe will be without keeper Nick Pope at Stamford Bridge after he underwent surgery on a hand injury, and he will join Jamaal Lascelles, Javier Manquillo, Matt Ritchie, Joelinton and Joe Willock on the sidelines.