London: Eddie Howe has insisted he has no interest in looking at the Premier League table as Newcastle bid to maintain their impressive start to the season following the World Cup break.
England’s top flight paused for the tournament in Qatar with the Saudi-backed Magpies riding high in third place, having lost just one game in all competitions all season and won their last five in the league.
Newcastle, who haven’t won a major domestic trophy since lifting the 1955 FA Cup, resume their league campaign away to Leicester on Monday with manager Howe trying to keep a lid on the growing expectation of the team’s large and passionate fan-base.
“I haven’t actually looked at the league table once, genuinely I haven’t,” he said.
“That’s not to say that I’m not aware of where we are, but for me the focus is always on the next training session to make sure we give the players the best chance to play well in the next game and let everything else fall into place.”
This time last year, Newcastle were firmly fixed in the relegation zone after winning just one of their first 18 fixtures.
But, aided by a January transfer window spending spree that saw Kieran Trippier, Dan Burn, Bruno Guimaraes and loan signing Matt Targett all arrive at St James’ Park, they climbed away from danger to preserve their top-flight status.
Howe, however, had no great interest in looking back despite overseeing Newcastle’s remarkable rise since being appointed in November 2021.
“I tend not to reflect too much, to be honest, because it’s maybe something you do at the end of the season when you’re bringing your ideas together for what the next season will look like,” said the 45-year-old former Bournemouth boss.
“It has gone, no denying it, amazingly well and we’ve enjoyed what we’ve done to this point, but it feels like we’re only halfway through.”
Monday’s match sees Newcastle up against a Leicester side they will face in next month’s League Cup quarter-finals, with the Foxes having won six of their last seven matches in all competitions after a sluggish start to the campaign.
“They’re a top team with a top manager and that never changed, in my opinion, even though they had a difficult start to their season,” said Howe.
“The quality of Brendan’s (Rodgers) work always shines through in his teams and if you look at their players, not a dramatic amount has changed from the team that excelled in previous years, so we respect them immensely.”=