NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United have already started working on their summer recruitment plans, manager Eddie Howe has revealed, although he added that three different transfer strategies, and budgets, are being developed based on whether or not the club will be participating in European competition next season.
The Magpies take on West Ham United at the London Stadium on Wednesday, looking to make it four wins out of four in the Premier League and further cement their Champions League prospects. Newcastle sit third in the top flight after a 2-0 victory over fellow Champions League chasers Manchester United at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
They still have 11 games left of the domestic campaign but with a return to European football for the first time in a decade very much a possibility, attention at the club has already turned to the summer and the possibility of new recruits.
When asked about his transfer strategy, Howe confirmed that Newcastle are working on three potential plans: One for use if they fail to qualify for any European competition, one if they qualify for the Europa League or Conference League, and one if they make it to the Champions League, a competition Newcastle have not played in since 2004.
“Yeah, I think to a degree, yes, I think we have all eventualities covered so we’re not behind the curve, depending on what happens,” said Howe. “We’re in the process of doing all that work now — me to a lesser degree because I’m preparing for the games, but behind the scenes we are.
“There is a huge amount of work for us to do (during the summer) on every level. Football never stands still. The teams competing with us will all try and do the same thing. We need to be smart with what we do and we are on a journey that is accelerating very quickly and we need to match that with our decision making.”
Qualifying for the Champions League is obviously the goal for Newcastle, given the massive financial rewards unlocked by participation in the competition. In many ways, jumping from a relegation battle to a place the top four in such a short time would be not only a remarkable feat for Howe but also for the club’s new owners, who are not thought to have been planning for such a big leap in such a short space of time.
“That would be an outcome, yes,” Howe said when asked whether a top-four spot would increase his transfer budget. “I can’t think about the outcome, I have to think about how we get there. That is what we’re working toward.
“But definitely, where we finish, that will dictate to a large part of what we can and can’t do in the summer. We want to achieve whatever we can and push as hard as we can. There is no part of us that is trying to keep anything down; that goes against my internal beliefs. We are going for everything.
“Players will always speak and they will say their own thoughts, which is fine, I’m OK with that. The aim is to try and beat West Ham and see where we go after that. I haven’t set a target or interacted in those kind of conversations because I don’t think they help us. It’s very much game-by-game and see where it takes us.”
Newcastle are still waiting on injury reports on Joe Willock, who limped off during the victory over Manchester United at the weekend. Otherwise, though, Howe is expected to have a near-full strength squad to choose from, with only top-scorer Miguel Almiron out for the medium term.