Man Utd 2-0 Newcastle United ‘EFL Cup final loss is the start of something great for Magpies’

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe admits there are no guarantees – but they will use the pain of their EFL Cup defeat as motivation to bring success to St James’ Park.

Despite the backing of a fervent support, who made the most of their first Wembley visit since the 1999 FA Cup final, the outcome was the same with a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United.

It left Newcastle still without a major trophy since 1969 and their last domestic cup success, the FA Cup, back in 1955.

Howe did not try to hide the crushing disappointment of a loss in which he accepted his side didn’t ‘get the big moments right’. But he found it easy to see reasons for optimism.

Manchester United beat Newcastle in Carabao Cup
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“It hurts immensely,” added Howe. “It feels like you have failed. A negative sea of emotions hit you but, with defeat, sometimes you can take positives.

Nothing is guaranteed. I hope we are a different Newcastle, but the competition is very high so we have to improve. We can’t stand still and think we are something. We have to prove we are – and we have to go again.”

The bare statistics show Newcastle are a far better side than 12 months ago.

After 23 games of last season, they were four points clear of the relegation zone. Even after Tottenham’s victory against Chelsea, now they are only four points off a Champions League place with 15 matches remaining – and they have two games in hand on Antonio Conte’s side.

And significant voices among those who want Newcastle to succeed back up that view.

“This is the beginning of something for Newcastle,” said popular former Magpies winger David Ginola. “It is the start of building something great, building history.”

Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan was present at Wembley and will doubtless have his own thoughts on the progress made since the Saudi-backed takeover changed the outlook on Tyneside.

Howe said the brief exchange the pair had after the final whistle was positive but he will know, like any manager, his own performance will be judged on results.

To that end, the rest of Newcastle’s season will be fascinating.

They have a trip to champions Manchester City next weekend, ‘probably the most difficult game in the league’, according to Howe. Among their remaining opponents too are third-placed Manchester United and leaders Arsenal.

A potentially pivotal encounter with Tottenham is scheduled for 23 April, although that date clashes with FA Cup semi-final weekend.

As Tottenham are still involved, it raises the potential for the game being moved to an even later point in the campaign, when its importance could be even more significant.

It should be a challenge Newcastle will relish. Yet Howe accepts the battle ahead is made more difficult by the reality that those teams the Magpies are trying to usurp have spent years dealing with similar challenges.

“This season was an unknown for us,” he added. “Would we step up and continue our momentum or would it be another season of struggle?

“The players have done incredibly well to elevate us to an incredible position but we are not the finished article. We are coming at this from a totally different place and it only gets harder because the competition will improve.”

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