What Eddie Howe's 'passionate' about as Newcastle United prepare for Carabao Cup semi-final against Southampton
Eddie Howe says a Carabao Cup semi-final “isn’t enough” for him – as he’s determined to take Newcastle to Wembley.
Howe’s third-placed side will take on basement club Southampton tomorrow night in the first leg of the club’s last four tie, the club's first semi-final since 2005.
Newcastle last reached this stage of the competition in the 1975/76 season, and Howe’s “passionate” about giving the supporters a trip to Wembley.
“We’re delighted to be where we are, but the semi-final itself isn’t enough,” said United’s head coach. “I don’t think it’s enough for anybody.
“To say you got to a semi-final means nothing. You want to get one step further. I know the players feel the same way.
“Me and my coaching team feel passionately about it, that we want to make the final, but we have to navigate these two games and hey are going to be very difficult.”
United will be backed by more than 3,000 fans at the St Mary’s Stadium, while the second leg at St James’s Park a week is heading for a sell out.
“We want it to be a tie for the supporters,” said Howe. “The home game will be a very special night.
“Our job’s to make sure we’re in a good position going into that. We’re desperate for the next step, but we have to take our mind off that and focus on the process and the job – and the job is to go to Southampton and perform well.
“It’s a really special game. For me, we understand the importance of these two games we have coming up.
“We want to keep the positive momentum and positive outlook, and something exciting on the horizon for the future. They will be two special games.”
Newcastle beat Southampton 4-1 at the St Mary’s Stadium earlier this season, but the club has since changed manager.
“We know what we’ve got to do,” said Howe. “It’s very tough to deliver that. This is going to be two really difficult games for us. We’re under no illusions about that.
“We’ll try to embrace the pressure we face, and try to get the players to enjoy what is ahead.”
Trust the process
Howe has not changed the team’s preparations for the game, which follows a goalless draw away to Crystal Palace.
"It’s coming here, speaking to you (the media), that’s normal pre-match build up,” said Howe.
“It’s watching the opposition, planning training, the processes are exactly the same, just you’re doing it for a up game rather than a league game.
"I understand the importance of the game to everybody, me included.
"But I try and approach the games in the same way. Very analytical in the build up, understand our opponent, understand how we’re going to play, trust our training, trust our work and then you sit back and watch the results of that work in the game.
"I think you have to have that mindset where you’re not too emotionally involved, you’re looking at it clearly from a football perspective.”
Asked if he felt “pride” at taking the club this far, Howe said: “Yeah, of course we do.
"We understand the importance, and how everyone will feel, but we just can’t go away from what we normally do and how we prepare.”