EDDIE HOWE has defended his game management during Newcastle United’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester City and claimed he did not want to make ‘negative substitutions’ during the second half.

Newcastle were leading 2-1 with 16 minutes of the game to go, but after Kevin de Bruyne equalised with a clinical finish from the edge of the area, the Belgian turned provider as he set up Oscar Bobb for a stoppage-time winner.

Both de Bruyne and Bobb were substitutes introduced by Pep Guardiola in the second half, but Howe waited until the 86th minute before making his one and only change, with Lewis Hall coming on for Anthony Gordon.


Newcastle’s bench was extremely threadbare with a host of senior players still unavailable because of injury, but Howe could still have turned to the likes of Paul Dummett or Matt Ritchie in an attempt to bolster his defence while Manchester City were pouring forward in the second half.

“I’m in a difficult position where I’m thinking, do I bring a defender on, which can potentially be viewed as a negative substitution,” said Howe, “It’s generally a negative move when you take off an attacking player, and I didn’t really want to do that.

“I was hoping that Miggy (Almiron), Anthony (Gordon) and Alex (Isak) could still be a threat in the match, even though they’d given a lot in that first half.

“I wanted to keep them on the pitch because of what they delivered for the majority of the game. I think if we draw the game and see the last three minutes out, then it’s probably not talked about as much. But unfortunately, it’s cost us.”

Newcastle have now lost six of their last seven league games, a run that has seen them drop to tenth position in the table, and Howe admitted that today’s game followed a pattern that has become somewhat familiar in recent weeks.

In four of the Magpies’ last eight matches, they have led at some stage in the game, only to eventually lose.

“I think we have (seen that before),” admitted Howe. “There was so much promise and so many good things, so to be sat here with nothing is very, very painful. The lads have given so much physically in that game.

“The first half was everything that we want to be. We wanted to be aggressive and front foot. When you do that, you take risks, but those risks were worth it. You could see that it paid off at the other end.

“We still wanted to do that in the second half, we still wanted to play the same way, but we just couldn’t deliver that in the second half.”