Home sport Eddie Howe ready to ring changes at slumping Newcastle

Eddie Howe ready to ring changes at slumping Newcastle

Eddie Howe ready to ring changes at slumping Newcastle

Eddie Howe has warned his Newcastle players that no-one is guaranteed a place in his team as he attempts to turn around an alarming slump in form.

Boxing Day’s humbling 3-1 home defeat by Nottingham Forest was the Magpies’ sixth in seven games in all competitions, a run during which their first Champions League adventure in two decades has drawn to a close and hopes of a second successive Carabao Cup final appearance have gone up in smoke.

Head coach Howe hopes to have more of his injured troops back to assist those who have been wearied by a schedule which brought 10 games in 30 days during December and he will have no qualms about shaking things up, with the January transfer window also just days away.

He said: “I’ll be prepared to make any change that I think can benefit either the performance or the result and of course players are accountable for what they deliver.

“No amount of credit in the bank is big enough, you have to earn everything you get from the game. I’m a firm believer in that, so players know they have to perform and we have to change our short-term form for sure.”

Tuesday’s defeat, which ended a run of seven consecutive Premier League wins at St James’ Park, was all the more painful in that it arrived three days after a 1-0 reverse at Luton and courtesy of a rare hat-trick from former Newcastle striker Chris Wood.

More worryingly, it further damaged the prospects of repeating last season’s top-four Premier League finish and the rewards it would bring, and with fixtures against high-flying Liverpool, Manchester City and Aston Villa to come either side of an FA Cup trip to Sunderland, alarm bells are ringing in some quarters.

Howe, who has presided over a remarkable rise on Tyneside since taking up the reins in November 2021, remains calm and retains the support of the club’s Saudi-backed hierarchy, and his response will be to attempt to address his team’s ongoing issues on the training pitch, something for which he has had precious little time in recent weeks.

He said: “The difficulty for the players that have played the majority of the minutes in recent weeks has been they just haven’t been on the grass.

“They have been in between games, of course, resting and then building up for another game three days later, and possibly we’ve suffered from not having that training ground time.

“That’s the schedule, we knew that that was going to be the case, but I just think that our inability to rotate the team has maybe caught up with us in that respect.”

A maiden victory for new Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo extended his record against Newcastle from his days at Wolves and Tottenham to eight games without defeat.

He said: “I didn’t realise that. But more than my individual situation, today was a huge, huge, huge moment for us because I’ve just been told at St James’ Park for the last two seasons who were the teams that achieved good results here, and there are not too many so Forest did very well.”