Eddie Howe fears Newcastle are in a huge fight to stay in the Premier League as they go into a difficult December run of fixtures on the back of a 4-0 loss at Leicester.
Against a Leicester side who had endured a torrid week of their own, suffering Covid-19 absences before being knocked out of the Europa League at Napoli on Thursday, Newcastle were soundly beaten, brought back down to earth following their first win of the campaign against Burnley last Saturday.
Howe’s men are 19th in the Premier League, three points from safety, but have Liverpool (A), Manchester City (H) and Manchester United (H) up next. Nevertheless, Howe insists his players should not feel disheartened.
He told Sky Sports: “We’re in a huge fight to stay in this division. I was aware of that when I came in and that won’t change, I don’t think, throughout the whole season. We’re in a huge battle. We’ll need to use the pain and feeling from today to help us in our journey this season.
“Every game is an opportunity. We’re hugely frustrated by some of our moments in the game. If we’d have shown more composure in the attacking third, we could have made more of the moments. We just let the game slip away from us.
“We know they have quality players and they hurt us when we allowed them space but I don’t think we should lose heart from the majority of the game. We just need more of the big moments to go our way.”
Newcastle had more possession (52 per cent), shots (12 to 8) and corners (6 to 4) than Leicester in the game, but failed to make the most of some promising positions.
The game swung in Leicester’s favour following a controversial penalty away in the first half – James Maddison went down in the box under Jamaal Lascelles’ challenge – with VAR settling for referee Peter Bankes’ original decision.
But Howe, who also felt the scoreline was not representative of his side’s performance, said the decision was harsh.
“It wasn’t ideal for our situation. The manner of [the penalty] as well is one that the referee gives at the time and it’s no way it will be overturned. It’s a harsh moment for us. The scoreline is not reflective. Statistics show us that and my gut feeling tells me that but we have to regroup very quickly.
“It was a strange game because I thought we were OK for large parts. We were OK in the first half and were a threat at times. We conceded a goal with the penalty – which was debatable whether it was. The scoreline looks like a heavy defeat but I didn’t think it felt like that at all.”
He later said in his post-match press conference: “I’m surprised that it hasn’t gone to VAR for the referee to have another look himself. It’s obviously a contentious decision, and I’d always encourage the referees to go and have another look themselves.
“I don’t think the scoreline is reflective of the game, and I think the penalty decision has obviously had a huge bearing on the outcome. In my opinion, I don’t think it was a penalty.
“Maddison is going over before the contact is made, and it’s just disappointing the referee didn’t go over to have another look at it himself. That would have been the best decision.”
Live Renault Super Sunday
Sunday 19th December 2:00pm
Dec 16: Liverpool (A)
Dec 19: Man City (H) – live on Sky Sports Premier League
Dec 27: Man Utd H) – live on Sky Sports Premier League
Dec 30: Everton (A)