The Newcastle United offer from Eddie Howe which five players turned down – with good reason
Howe offered the five players who had been away at the World Cup a break after their involvement in the tournament ended.
Every one of them turned it down. And all bar Callum Wilson, sidelined with illness, helped the team record a sixth successive Premier League victory against Leicester City yesterday.
Chris Wood, Miguel Almiron and Joelinton scored in a convincing 3-0 win at the King Power Stadium which lifted the club into second place.
The challenge for Howe was to someone get his team in a position where they could pick up where they left off before the World Cup break.
And the readiness of Wilson, Bruno Guimaraes, Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope and Fabian Schar to return as soon as possible helped Howe – and the team – ahead of the restart.
Asked if he had had any apprehension about the break, Howe said: “All you can do is go with your gut instincts in terms of your experience – and what you see day to day.
“I’ve seen a group in the break that have been focused on their training. Our standards have been very high, and also the biggest thing for me is the World Cup players wanted to come back straight away and play.
“There was no hesitation. I gave them every opportunity to have a break as I was mindful of fatigue, but they all wanted to play, and they were desperate to come back and be part of the group. That speaks volumes for the feeling internally.”
Newcastle’s run of top-flight wins is the club's longest in more than 10 years.
And Howe – who’s still refusing to talk about where the club could finish this season – has got the “consistency” that he has wanted from his team.
Asked what has most impressed him, United's head coach said: “Probably the consistency to win that number of games is very difficult in the Premier League, because of the standard of teams.
"Coming to grounds like this and performing isn’t easy. The mentality has to be spot on to improve that consistency. We’re in a good place, but we know we have to work hard to maintain that.”