Newcastle United’s near 70-year domestic trophy drought will go on a little longer after Sunday’s League Cup final defeat by Manchester United at Wembley.
Once again the Magpies were found wanting with a trophy at stake. Since winning the FA Cup 68 years ago, Newcastle has three times finished as runners-up in competition and has now lost two League Cup finals as well.
There is genuine optimism that Newcastle is heading in the right direction under Eddie Howe, although the manager himself says it still has a long way to go.
“It is a process, we want to be here on a regular basis. There is a long way to go to be the team we want to be,” Howe told reporters after a disappointing return to Wembley.
“We can be proud of our performance but we were not clinical enough. As much as we didn’t want the final to be a distraction it has been. The players gave everything.”
There was not much between the sides in the opening half but goals by Casemiro and a deflected Marcus Rashford effort deflated Newcastle before halftime.
It responded well after the break but the lack of goals that stalled its top-four challenge was evident again as it was well shackled by United.
But Howe, who has achieved a remarkable transformation since taking over in the wake of a Saudi-led takeover in late 2021, said that his side will take positives from the loss.
“It hurts immensely,” added Howe. “It feels like you have failed. A negative sea of emotions hit you but, with defeat, sometimes you can take positives.
“Nothing is guaranteed. I hope we are a different Newcastle, but the competition is very high so we have to improve. We can’t stand still and think we are something. We have to prove we are - and we have to go again.”
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