Eddie Howe denied there are any attitude issues at Newcastle after their shock FA Cup exit, explaining how they must react ahead of a “season-defining” spell.
Newcastle could not make any progress in their first cup match since their Saudi-led takeover. The new owners will not be seeing a cup run after a 1-0 defeat to Cambridge shifted their focus firmly back on their relegation battle in the Premier League.
Kieran Trippier made his debut for Newcastle in the game. But the first signing of the new era could not celebrate. His side suffered a loss by a single goal from Cambridge number nine Joe Ironside.
It brings Newcastle back down to earth somewhat after their draw against Manchester United back in December. Now, they have been sent a reminder of how much of a work in progress they are.
Even though they can now focus fully on the league, their manager knew how important the cup was. He insisted their preparation was positive. But the feelings in the aftermath are negative due to the performance of Cambridge goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov and an overall lack of decisiveness.
Eddie Howe told BBC Sport: “We are desperately disappointed. We really prepared well for this game and we played a very strong team.
“But ultimately we found a goalkeeper in superb form and a team that defended for their lives and we couldn’t break them down.
“I don’t think there was anything wrong with our attitude. We just couldn’t deliver the quality to score.
“The players are very disappointed. They know the importance of the FA Cup and they wanted to win. When we did get it right the goalkeeper was in outstanding form and I have to credit Cambridge and their manager.
“We did have some good moments. But we lacked that killer instinct that every team needs. Then when you don’t put the game to bed there’s always a chance you leave yourself open and, unfortunately, one of those moments cost us the game.”
Eddie Howe hopes Newcastle remain confident
Newcastle may have been somewhat “unlucky” against Cambridge, according to Howe. But he is hopeful they won’t lose the optimism they were building before the match.
Furthermore, he was happy with the support at St James’ Park, which could be helpful for a squad he believes in.
He continued: “The size of the task remains what it is. I just hope the game doesn’t damage our players’ confidence. Coming into the game we were in a decent frame of mind and were boosted by the Manchester United performance.
“When you don’t win and achieve your objectives it has to force you into working even harder and that is what we will do.
“I think we have been a little but unlucky today. But you need a bit of luck to get to the final and win the FA Cup. It wasn’t our year and I’m disappointed for the supporters for the feeling and the noise they gave us today. I think they saw a team motivated today that gave their all but not good enough in the final third.
“The next group of games could potentially be season-defining. Feeding the payers and giving them the confidence to execute is the challenge I face. It’s a good group of players with a good attitude. But we have to take this defeat on the chin and come back again.”