The two most revealing Newcastle United observations from Nathan Jones after Carabao Cup win for Eddie Howe's side

A couple of things Nathan Jones said after Newcastle United’s Carabao Cup win really stood out.

Jones was sitting in the seat in the media auditorium which had been occupied by a deflated Ralph Hassenhuttl after a 4-1 defeat for Southampton earlier in the season.

Read More
Eddie Howe issues exciting Newcastle United update on Allan Saint-Maximin
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This time, Newcastle won the semi-final first leg 1-0 thanks to a 73rd-minute goal from Joelinton, who had had a first-half strike disallowed for a handball.

Southampton, though, had been more competitive – and Jones told of his “pride” at the performance.

And the result would have been different had it not been for a superb second-half save from Nick Pope, who denied Che Adams with his left foot when the score was still goalless.

Best in the league

And Jones was “categorical” in his assessment of Pope, who, remarkably, has kept 10 successive clean sheets.

Southampton manager Nathan Jones speaks before last night's game.

“I think Nick Pope’s the best goalkeeper in the league,” said Southampton’s manager. “And I say ‘goalkeeper’ when I say that. He might not be the most fashionable one, in terms of what he can do with his feet, but for me, he’s the best actual goalkeeper in the league.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Of course, Pope’s critics point to his kicking, but the 30-year-old is simply best at keeping the ball out of the net, according to Jones.

“In terms of goalkeeping – catching it, keeping the ball out of the net, making big saves – then there isn’t a better goalkeeper than Nick Pope in the Premier League,” said Jones.

“A lot of keepers now are judged on how brilliant they are with their feet and how well they can play.

Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“So yes, with that, there are certain ones that are better than Nick Pope (at kicking). But in terms of being a goalkeeper, and what I think is required in being a top goalkeeper, then he’s categorically the best in the Premier League.”

Jones, appointed in November, then went on to discuss the size, athleticism and physicality of Newcastle’s players.

Power and aggression

Co-owner Amanda Staveley candidly admitted that the team “wasn’t fit” when the club was taken over in late 2021, and the turnaround since then has been extraordinary.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And Jones believes the team’s “power and aggression” makes third-placed United, under Howe, such a formidable opponent.

“If you look at the size difference between the two teams, then we’re probably the smallest in the league and they’re probably the biggest,” said Jones.

“We looked vulnerable in transition against the most athletic side in the league. There’s no quicker, more powerful or more aggressive side than them in the league.

“If you look at them, then I don’t think there’s anyone, apart from (Kieran) Trippier who is under six foot. And they’re athletic with it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s not like they’re six foot and can’t run – they’re all very athletic, so at times, you’re going to be vulnerable against them.

“But we wanted to be bold and brave, and at times, we knew we were going to be taking a chance by doing that. I thought the level of our performance was excellent against a top-four Premier League side.”