What Eddie Howe told Jurgen Klopp after hitting back at Newcastle United’s touchline complaint

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Jordan Cronin’s Newcastle United analysis from the 1-0 defeat to quadruple-chasing Liverpool.

Newcastle United’s run of six straight wins at St James’ Park came to end after losing to Liverpool.

Naby Keita’s first-half goal separated the two sides as Eddie Howe’s side suffered their first home defeat of 2022.

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Here are Jordan Cronin’s five talking points from the 1-0 loss on Tyneside:

Andre Mariner gets his decision spot on

Newcastle started well against the quadruple-chasing Reds before they seized control when opening the scoring 19 minutes in.

Certainly, on the home crowd’s part, there was a huge sense of aggrievement in the way Naby Keita scored after Fabian Schar fell to ground under a sliding tackle from James Milner in the build-up.

United wanted a free-kick and hoped VAR would intervene. It didn’t, and chants of ‘you’re not fit to referee’ echoed around St James’ Park as the officials headed down the tunnel at half-time.

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Those inside the stadium didn’t have the luxury of a replay however, and once they could eventually see the challenge back, even the most biased Newcastle fan can say that referee Mariner didn’t get his call correct.

Schar’s heavy touch was simply cut out by Milner. The Switzerland defender, fresh from penning a new two-year contract with United on Friday morning, later limped off and could be a doubt for the trip to Manchester City next Sunday.

Eddie Howe reminds Jurgen Klopp of Anfield incident

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Newcastle further vented their frustrations towards Mariner midway through the second-half when he stopped play for a head injury after Milner blocked Jonjo Shelvey’s free-kick with his head.

Klopp caught the United bench having words with fourth official Andy Madley. Indeed, the Reds boss couldn’t understand the hosts’ complaints, so Howe quickly reminded the German of the incident at Anfield in December during an exchange of words.

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Mike Dean, referee on Merseyside that night, failed to stop play when Isaac Hayden was down with a head injury. As a result, Diogo Jota was onside and equalised to cancel out Shelvey’s opener. Liverpool won the match 3-1.

Funnily enough, it appeared Klopp forgot that had happened as he walked back into his technical area.

Allan Saint-Maximin struggles continue

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It’s harsh to pick out a bad performer against a team as class as Liverpool but Saint-Maximin’s dip in form has been going for a good couple of months now.

Since fully returning from a calf injury and illness in April, the Frenchman, bar a few glimpses, has looked a player out of form and one perhaps low on confidence.

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That sharpness and playing on the edge just don’t seem to be there. Look, it isn’t at all through a lack of trying but in terms of his mercurial best, Saint-Maximin is a shadow of that at this very moment.

Like he was at Anfield earlier in the season, the 25-year-old was deployed as a central striker to play on Liverpool’s high line and get in behind central defenders Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip.

One thing you can say is Saint-Maximin didn’t receive the ball enough but when he did, the Frenchman was extremely wasteful and lacked an end product.

In a time where some Newcastle fans, on social media anyway, continue to debate Saint-Maximin’s future, the player is doing very little to silence them. Still, Saint-Maximin knows he retains the majority of the fanbase’s support - just take the Wor Flags tribute for example.

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But as far as this campaign goes, Saint-Maximin looks a player who needs the off-season to relax, re-energise and return as the Allan Saint-Maximin supporters know he can be. And that is being one of the best, most unpredictable, attackers in the Premier League.

No shame in defeat

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There is no shame in losing to Liverpool. This is a team that is one of the world’s best. It’s really no coincidence they’re still competing for an unprecedented quadruple as we enter the final month of the season.

The Magpies didn’t threaten Liverpool as Howe hoped - registering just four attempts at Alisson’s goal, only two of which were on target. But full credit to Klopp’s side, they gave United zero space. Their pressing was relentless and they saw the game out fairly comfortably.

Being disappointed in defeat shows how far Newcastle have come, and the mentality of Howe & Co that they’re hatching a plan to win games against the top sides. Not too long ago did the club have a head coach who bigged up every team but his own.

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And not too long ago were Newcastle deep in relegation trouble. Playing Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal in the run-in could have been a disaster. Instead, the club is safe from relegation with games to spare and can relish what’s ahead.

Reality check for Newcastle - if they needed it

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Reality check maybe isn’t the right term but the visit of Liverpool was a stark reminder of how far Newcastle are from competing with the likes of Klopp’s men.

Howe even admitted that himself afterwards: “We’ve improved a lot of aspects to our play but I think it (the defeat) shows there’s a gap we have to bridge to the top teams but I’m not surprised by that, I don’t think anyone else is that we have work to do.

“The biggest disappointment today was individually, I don’t think we really excelled. The team was OK, we were in the game right until the end but to win these games you need probably six or seven players right at the top of their levels and that wasn’t there.”

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Howe’s side have proven this season, despite a horror start, that they can be the best of the bottom pack. With that, the aim next season is likely to be the top eight, especially with four or five quality additions in the summer.

From then on, Newcastle will look to challenge the higher European places but in terms of a Premier League title - Liverpool and Manchester City are quite literally in a league of their own.

Both clubs are privy to strong financial backing but they’ve also planned well and recruited well - all-in-all have a way of doing things that Newcastle owners will undoubtedly take inspiration from.

Success is coming to Newcastle but as Howe put it, bridging the gap is no quick fix. Patience is needed.

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