Eddie Howe explains 'difficult' Newcastle United position after Man City £261m flex

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Newcastle United lost 3-2 to Manchester City following Oscar Bobb's 91st minute winner.

Eddie Howe has explained why he was reluctant to make a substitution during Newcastle United's 3-2 defeat to Premier League champions Manchester City.

Newcastle led 2-1 up until the 74th minute after goals from Alexander Isak and Anthony Gordon cancelled out Bernardo Silva's opener. City, however, fought back with Kevin de Bruyne equalising before the Belgian set up Oscar Bobb in the first minute of stoppage time.

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Both de Bruyne and Bobb were substitutes introduced by Pep Guardiola in the second half. Meanwhile, Howe waited until the 86th minute to make his only change as Lewis Hall replaced Anthony Gordon.

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

The absence of 11 senior players forced Howe to name a bench consisting of two goalkeepers, two under-21s players and four defenders with Matt Ritchie the only recognised attacking option. In comparison, Man City's substitutes were worth a combined £261million in transfer fees.

“I think what I’d say on our situation is that we love the players we have, it’s just unfortunately for us, all our attacking players are not available," said Howe. "There are a lot of attacking players missing and, whenever you get that, you’re in a difficult situation.

"If the injuries had been spread out a bit more evenly, it wouldn’t be so defining for us. I’m in a difficult position where I’m thinking, do I bring a defender on, which can potentially be viewed as a negative substitution? It’s generally a negative move when you take off an attacking player, and I didn’t really want to do that.

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"I was hoping that Miggy [Almiron], Anthony [Gordon] and Alex [Isak] could still be a threat in the match, even though they’d given a lot in that first half. I wanted to keep them on the pitch because of what they delivered for the majority of the game.

"I think if we draw the game and see the last three minutes out, then it’s probably not talked about as much. But unfortunately, it’s cost us."

The Magpies have lost six of their last seven matches - including four straight defeats - a run that has seen them drop to 10th in the Premier League table.

In four of their last eight matches, United have led at some stage in the game only to lose.

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"I do think it's linked to our inability to change things from an attacking perspective bizarrely because obviously fresh legs – we've seen it so many times ourselves this season, you bring on an attacking sub and suddenly your team dynamic looks totally different," said Howe.

“Obviously that's taken away from us at the moment."

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