Eddie Howe shrugs off fresh scrutiny of Newcastle’s £305m Saudi takeover

Eddie Howe revealed that he had not given much thought to new questions about the links between Newcastle United’s owners and the Saudi Arabia regime.  

Amnesty International called upon the body for the English top-flight to analyse the takeover deal for the Magpies, amid new evidence that raised questions about the level of separation between the Saudi state and the Public Investment Fund which bought Newcastle in 2021.  

A Newcastle fan group also urged the Premier League to review the club’s £305m takeover by owners from Saudi Arabia, amid concerns that the Magpies might be controlled by the state, despite previous assurances this would not be the case. 

However, Howe has said that despite the stories among the press, he was not distracted from the main goal of their next fixture, a trip to Manchester City, and that he had not asked the owners for clarity on the situation.

Howe said: ‘I’ve not seen any assurances. To be honest, I’ve not given it too much time.  

Eddie Howe has ‘not given too much time’ to talk about Newcastle’s links with Saudi Arabia

‘I’m aware of the headlines, seen headlines, but haven’t really invested in the details behind it. I’ve got Manchester City to prepare for and that genuinely has taken all my attention.’

He confirmed that they had spoken recently with senior staff, especially in the wake of the Carabao Cup defeat. Howe said: ‘We had regular communications with different board members after the game. We’ve been engaged probably more this week than most because of the game and the importance of the game.’

Howe said that he didn’t feel that conversations about the political and social environment around the club’s ownership were getting in the way of his job as first-team coach.

Howe said: ‘I’ve had very open communication from the day that I joined with various people connected to the board. But my conversations with them are all football-related, at no stage has it ever gone political.

‘That’s not my area, I don’t want it to be my area, I want to concentrate on how I can improve the team, what tools do I need to do that and the relationships with those people around me at the football club are very important.

‘Now obviously if I felt there was a time I needed to ask a question, I could. But I haven’t done that.’

The 45-year-old gaffer was also asked whether significant financial investment was required to turn Newcastle into trophy winners, after a long spell without silverware. He did not agree that only spending big would make Newcastle a success on the pitch, as he has always felt his squad is critical in the process too. 

He said: ‘It’s a difficult one for me to say yes, categorically, it’s only money. Because that takes away my one of my core beliefs; the players, So for me to say, yeah, it’s only down to money, I might as well not invest the time and energy that I do with my players now.

‘But I think there is an element of truth in that, that you need investments to really compete at the elite levels, we’re talking, you know, to disturb the top group of teams very difficult without that investment. So I do feel we’ve got more to go.

‘But I do also believe in the coaching process. And I believe we can get more out of our players that we currently are and I’ll always have that belief no matter how well we’re doing.’

Howe said his players were just as important in Newcastle's bid for success as money could be

Howe said his players were just as important in Newcastle’s bid for success as money could be

Newcastle United are coming off the back of their 2-0 defeat to Manchester United at Wembley, missing out on winning their first final in over two decades as Erik ten Hag’s side lifted the Carabao Cup.

They next go to United’s crosstown rivals Manchester City on Saturday, with the lunchtime kick-off crucial as the Magpies seek a top four finish in the league. 

Howe confirmed that Bruno Guimaraes is fit to start tomorrow’s Premier League clash, despite twisting his ankle in last week’s showpiece in London. 

Howe said: ‘Bruno is fine. Short-term pain but nothing that has impacted his training.’

As they focus on playing Pep Guardiola’s Citizens, Howe is confident that his side will play openly, despite some sides trying to ‘park the bus’ in a bid to deny their free-scoring strikers, including target frontman Erling Haaland.

Howe told reporters: ‘I said there’s many ways to approach the game. And I wouldn’t criticise anyone who does that because that might be their best way of getting a result. I’m not sure it’s ours.’ 

The Magpies lost the Carabao Cup final last weekend, but Howe praised the Newcastle fans

The Magpies lost the Carabao Cup final last weekend, but Howe praised the Newcastle fans

On the cup final defeat in London, Howe said: ‘We were bruised, but very quickly it turned to Manchester City. 

‘I didn’t think the passion and motivation within me could increase, but I think it has. The passion the fans showed will stay with me, and we want to return that.’

In the build-up to the big day at Wembley, Magpies fans flocked in their numbers to Trafalgar Square, and the 45-year-old gaffer was impressed by what he’d heard about their time in central London.

He said: ‘A couple of staff members had seen family members so they were there and saw people tidying away the rubbish and the drinks and everything. It was just an incredible act of celebration, really. That spoke volumes for the people.’ 

In his hotel on Sunday evening, just hours after the League Cup final, he sat through the tape again to get answers from the 2-0 defeat. He said revisiting the tough experience allowed him to get to a good place which allowed him to ‘move forward’ from the disappointment. 

Meanwhile, Scottish winger Ryan Fraser has been dropped to train with the under-21s, amid ongoing issues with his commitment to the first team. 

It is the next stage in an ongoing saga between Fraser and Howe which started when the pair were at Bournemouth in 2020. 

When asked if Fraser has a future with the Magpies, Howe revealed: ‘At the moment he doesn’t.’ Instead, the manager spoke up on behalf of those players who were part of securing Newcastle’s ongoing bid to finish top four. 

Howe confirmed that winger Ryan Fraser had been dropped to training with the under-21s

Howe confirmed that winger Ryan Fraser had been dropped to training with the under-21s

On Alexander Isak, Howe said: ‘He’s improving with more training sessions and more understanding of what we want from him. He’s still probably not at his optimum but he’s getting close. He’s got so much to give us and he’ll add a different dimension to our team.’

He also said new boy Anthony Gordon had a ‘big part’ to play in the rest of Newcastle’s domestic campaign, adding: ‘He’s been working hard in the background because when he came to us he was a little bit short of high end fitness so we’ve done that work with him. 

‘I’m really excited about what he can do in the rest of the season.’

After Saturday’s trip to the Etihad, Newcastle host Wolves and then travel to Nottingham Forest before the international break at the end of March. 

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