Manchester City are, in the eyes of Newcastle United’s head coach, the world’s best club team, so Howe, naturally, wasn’t jumping for joy when the draw for the Carabao Cup third round was made.
But that doesn’t mean the Magpies will go into tonight’s game at St James’ Park not believing they can progress. It’s a game – and a competition – they will “attack”, says Howe, who has no intention whatsoever of dismissing the Carabao Cup, even if he does have the extra games that come with European football to contend with this season.
Newcastle are fighting on four fronts but for Howe’s there’s no pecking order when it comes to importance. This morning, the only game on Howe’s mind is tonight’s.
“There’s no priority list, there’s no one tournament that’s more important than another,” he said.
“I’ve said this to the players many times. That’s a very dangerous thing to do. The most important game is the next game, whoever that is and whatever competition that is and we’ll try and focus all of our energy to win that match.
It was the Carabao Cup that brought Newcastle so close to ending their wait for silverware last season. Since his arrival on Tyneside, Howe has talked at length about his desire to win a trophy, That cup craving and last year’s near-miss is driving the Magpies on.
Howe said: “We are well-aware of our hunt for a trophy here. It is pushing us all. This is a competition we take very seriously. We would love that to be a trophy that we want to win so we will do everything we can to try and do it.
“The Wembley experience has driven us all forward because the experience of the run to get to the final was something we really enjoyed. The final, itself, we didn’t because we didn’t get the outcome we wanted but it’s there in the back of our minds.
“We know the Premier League is intense and very difficult and, of course, we have got European competition but this, with the FA Cup, which our recent performances haven’t been strong in, are competitions we take seriously.”
The main motivating factor for the players is rewarding the fans and ending their long wait for silverware celebrations, says Howe.
“I think they already know how passionate and loyal the supporters are and how much they hold their heroes in high regard,” said the head coach.
“I think it’s very obvious when you play for Newcastle for any period of time that the supporters will love you if you do well. They’re very loyal.
“The group of players here are fiercely determined to win a trophy for them, I don’t think they’re necessarily attaching it to themselves. They want to give back and that’s what we all want to do.”
Pep Guardiola will ring the changes tonight but, regardless of the team the visitors put out, Howe described the tie as the “ultimate” challenge.
He said: “Its the draw nobody wants because they’re the best club team in the world and have been for some time, regardless of what team they pick.
“They have world class and the best manager in the world. The test is there for us, we won’t underestimate it but we also want to attack it and show that we have strength in depth as well and can compete on various fronts as well.”