Newcastle send 'you have to be careful warning' after Roy Keane dig

Eddie Howe has to be careful not to sign too many 'warriors' this summer but the Newcastle United boss admitted that the Magpies need to find 'answers'.

Newcastle boast one of the best home records in the league, but only Brentford and relegated Luton Town and Sheffield United have lost more Premier League games on their travels than the Magpies (11) this season. Newcastle have conceded a whopping 38 away goals in the top-flight - which is the fourth-worst return in the division.

Following Wednesday night's 3-2 defeat at Manchester United, Roy Keane suggested that Newcastle 'were not as tough as they think' while Anthony Gordon questioned whether it was a 'mentality thing' after the black-and-whites conceded 'too many sloppy goals this year'. A visibly frustrated Howe said Newcastle would have to look at both the 'personnel of the team' and the 'mentality of the group' in the immediate aftermath of that loss at Old Trafford.

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A few days on and Howe was the first to admit that 'you can't put a price on experience - especially away from home when the game's in the balance'. Key players like Nick Pope, Sven Botman, Sandro Tonali, Joe Willock and Joelinton are among those who have been missed so do Newcastle need to bring in even more battlers and winners this summer?

"Yeah, but I think you have to be careful, though," Howe told reporters. "Like with everything, it's a balance because you could pick 11 warriors and then not have the quality that you need to win football matches so certainly that's something I need to look at and reflect on, but we have missed the qualities of certain individuals that will have helped us on the road."

The evidence backs that up. It is worth noting that, even with so many absentees, Newcastle's points tally at St James' Park has been even better this season, but the black-and-whites had one of the best away records in the division on the way to qualifying for the Champions League last season when Nick Pope, Sven Botman, Kieran Trippier, Joe Willock, Joelinton and Callum Wilson were regularly available and at their sharpest.

Only Arsenal and Manchester City picked up more points on the road than Newcastle (32) and conceded fewer goals than the Magpies (19) in 2022-23. Newcastle repeatedly got under the skin of their rivals away from home and, in contrast to this year, claimed significant wins at Spurs, West Ham and Everton. Newcastle were even booed off by Liverpool fans after losing at Anfield.

Newcastle, who have only drawn two games on their travels in the top-flight this season, also managed to eke out a point away from home against Arsenal, Manchester United, Brighton, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace among others. That nasty streak has not quite been there this season.

"‘I think it’s always with the individual make-up of the players," Howe explained. "We have been missing some big players this year who would have added that quality. I think it’s in some of the players who have been missing, highlighted by Joelinton. When he plays, he brings a totally different dynamic to the group.

"You could see when he came on on Wednesday. That was the best he’s looked since his injury. He looked very much like his robust, agile self. That was a big plus for me. Certainly, we need to find those answers for next year away from home."

If Newcastle are to play in Europe next season, Howe's team need to find answers even sooner than that on the final day. Newcastle travel to Brentford, who have not lost at home since February, and Thomas Frank's team have finished the campaign strongly after suffering just one defeat in their last eight games.

Newcastle will secure a place in the Europa Conference League by bettering eighth-placed Manchester United's result at Brighton provided that the Red Devils lose the FA Cup final. If Newcastle beat Brentford, and Chelsea lose at home against Bournemouth, the black-and-whites could even finish sixth and qualify for the Europa League - if Manchester United are defeated by bitter rivals Manchester City at Wembley next week. Clearly, there is a lot to play for.

“That is what we have focused on now for a number of months," Howe added. "We are very keen to build our experience in Europe and not just be an isolated inconsistent team in that respect. That is the next challenge for us.”