Newcastle United will be playing again in the Champions League next season after a 20-year absence following a 0-0 draw at home to Leicester City that guaranteed a top-four finish in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Newcastle dominated the game from start to finish without scoring a goal, but they didn’t really care as their dream of appearing in the Champions League came true.
“I can’t say it honestly. If you had told us two years ago this was going to happen, we wouldn’t have believed you,” midfielder Sean Longstaff told Sky Sports as quoted by ESPN.
“We have beaten Juventus here 1-0 [in the Champions League], you saw it on the old DVD. To be a part of this I am excited,” he continued.
Newcastle United are third with 70 points and a game remaining, four clear of fifth-placed Liverpool who also have a game remaining.
Fourth-placed Manchester United have 69 points with two games remaining.
After celebrating on the pitch at St James’ Park with his players, Howe was asked what his goals are in August.
“Of course not [the top four],” the former Bournemouth manager told Sky Sports. “You always hope and always believe and you have to dream. But we feel we are not ready for that.
“After last season’s battle against relegation, it’s really whether we can consolidate and be a better team and not be tempted by relegation like last season.”
“I can’t praise [the players] enough for that mentality, their attitude, what they have given me and the club.”
Leicester move one place above Leeds United on goal difference, but remain 18th and must win against West Ham United on Sunday and hope 17th-placed Everton fail to beat Bournemouth.
The final whistle was met with great fanfare from St James’ Park supporters who could hardly believe the speed at which their club had changed since being purchased by a consortium led by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund in October 2021.
Newcastle are winless and 19th in the Premier League table and heading for relegation after 14 years under their unpopular Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.
But along with Howe’s appointment and some shrewd transfer business, Newcastle are back with big European players.
“It means everything,” Newcastle full-back Kieran Trippier, one of the first signings since the takeover, said. “I took a risk when I first arrived but I have always believed in every decision I made. The club has been through difficult times but now we are reaping the rewards.”