Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe rues lost initiative in race for European football

Eddie Howe discusses Newcastle United's end to the campaign

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has rued his side's recent dropped points with the Magpies now reliant on favours from other clubs to secure European football.

Newcastle were in pole position for a top six place ahead of last Saturday's encounter with Brighton but a 1-1 draw with the Seagulls and defeat to Manchester United in midweek means the club now need results to go their way elsewhere.

The Magpies can still finish sixth, but must beat Brentford on the final day and hope that Chelsea lose at home to Bournemouth to secure a place in European football.

They must better or equal Manchester United's result against Brighton to finish seventh, which would be enough for a Europa Conference League place - if Manchester City beat the Red Devils in the FA Cup final next Saturday.

Howe admitted the situation was not ideal but his team could only focus on Sunday's trip to Brentford.

Newcastle were beaten 3-2 by Manchester United in midweek. Credit: PA

"It is a big last day for us there's no denying that," he said. "We go into the game against Brentford knowing we have to do our part which is winning the game. That's no mean feat it is going to be a tough game for us and then we are in the hands of other clubs.

“Before the last two games, we had the initiative and now we don’t and it’s not in our hands any more, but we have to deal with it.

“We can only control now our performance and our result against Brentford and we have to do everything we can to do our part because what you don’t want is for the other teams to make a mistake and we’re not there to capitalise on it.”

Newcastle finished in the Champions League places just 12 months ago and while this season could still end successfully, Howe admitted he was frustrated with how the campaign had played out.

“I think we’ll look back with a tinge of ‘what could have been’ in many aspects, whether you’re talking the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup, the Champions League, the Premier League," he said.

“I think we’ve done okay, I think we’ve done well – but it could have been so different, it could have been even more memorable, so that will be a frustration that will live with me.”

Callum Wilson is one of many Newcastle players to miss most of the campaign through injury but he is expected to return against Brentford. Credit: PA

The two biggest issues for Newcastle have been dire luck with injuries and an inability to match their form at St James' Park on the road.

The 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford was the Magpies' 11th away defeat of the season and Howe believes his side's injury issues could be linked to their unhappy travels.

“We’ve lost some of the characteristics away from home that we need," Howe said as he tried to explain the difference from last season. "But I think that lies in some of the players that we’ve been missing. Of course, if it’s not there, we have to try to develop that, but I think that comes in part with experience.

“Certainly towards the end of the season, we’ve had a very young team – which is great in some senses – but also you can’t put a price sometimes on experience, especially away from home when the game is in the balance, so there’s certainly a lot for us to think about.”

All of the Premier League's final games get underway at 4pm on Sunday.

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