Ambitious Newcastle United's future challenge to Liverpool and Manchester City dominance

Jose Enrique left Newcastle United more than a decade ago citing a lack of ambition from the ownership.

Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 2:20 pm

That’s one accusation can’t be levelled at the club’s new owners, who bought the club from Mike Ashley last October in a £305million deal.

Eddie Howe has guided United, winless until November, up to ninth in the Premier League table ahead of Saturday’s game against Liverpool, another of Enrique’s former clubs.

And Enrique has spoken about the job done by Howe – and Newcastle’s prospects going forward – ahead of the fixture at St James’s Park.

Enrique said: "Who would've done better than Eddie Howe?

"In January, many people were saying the team was relegated, but I remained optimistic, because the January transfer window was there, and if they had stuck with the same team, they'd have been relegated.

“The signings of (Kieran) Trippier and Bruno (Guimaraes) have been massive, even though Trippier has been injured. His impact when he joined was huge, and now Bruno has taken over.

“The players seem to now be going forward, and under Mike Ashley, it wasn't like this, so in my opinion Eddie has done the best possible job.

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe at Carrow Road last weekend.

“I don't think anyone could've done better than Eddie, and I think he's a manager that Newcastle should really trust and be patient with.

“We don't know how they'll do next year, but, hopefully, they finish really high in the table, but if they don't, they should remember how he got Bournemouth from nothing to the Premier League for years.

“Now he's going to have money to spend on players he wants as well, I believe he can do something incredible.”

United, ironically, finished fifth in the Premier League after Enrique left in the summer of 2011 claiming the club was being held back by Ashley’s recruitment policy.

Jose Enrique playing for Newcastle United in the summer of 2011 before his departure.

“The club is letting major players go,” he tweeted at the tie. “The club is never going to fight to be in the top six if it keeps up this policy.”

The 2011/12 season, however, proved to be the exception rather than the rule under Ashley, and Newcastle suffered two relegations during the billionaire’s 14 years as owner.

Enrique believes that the club will again challenge for Champions League football in the coming seasons.

"Eddie may have set his standards too high already, because with just one transfer window, the team could be finishing in the top 10, so the fans will be very excited, and they want to push for the top six or the top seven,” Enrique told Lord Ping.

"Realistically, it depends on the signings, how much they spend on players and how well they settle, because it might take the players from outside the Premier League to adapt.

"Top 10 is definitely the target, then from there, they’ll see how far they can go. I believe they can go to play for the top six, and, in the future the top four, if they’re patient in the transfer window.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool, in the semi-finals of the Champions League, are a point behind league leaders Manchester City.

Enrique spent five years at Anfield after leaving United.