Eddie Howe hit back at Erik Ten Hag’s “nonsense” claims that his Newcastle United team are time wasters as he savoured a signature victory at St James’ Park.
Ten Hag had claimed before Sunday’s game that Newcastle make a habit of “delaying” matches and called on referee Stuart Atwell to step in and allow the game to flow. He had previously said the Magpies are a team that “try to annoy you”.
That echoed criticism that followed his team’s defeat at Liverpool earlier in the season and Howe spoke out when offered the chance following a 2-0 win that saw his team move into third and a commanding position in the race for the top four.
“I’m pleased you brought that up, actually, because I want to make one thing very clear: we want the ball in play. We play a quick game,” he told reporters.
“I don’t get where this time-wasting nonsense has come from because it’s not us. You saw today we wanted the ball back in play as quickly as possible: high energy, high tempo, ball in play.
“If something is not accurate then, naturally, you want to put the right point across. We want the ball in play – that’s the type of team we are.”
Newcastle’s win was arguably their most impressive of the season as they played with the high tempo and intensity that Howe wants to make the hallmark of his side.
They now face three away games against West Ham, Brentford and Aston Villa before another pivotal home clash against Tottenham later in the month.
“Hopefully it further builds our confidence levels that we can beat anyone home or away. We know it is only a small step but we will enjoy it,” he said.
“We had to be patient but we showed real belief in ourselves. We believed that we were performing well and it is a really good win.”
Meanwhile Ten Hag criticised his Manchester United team for a lack of maturity and accused them of failing to do the basics.
Ten Hag agreed with Luke Shaw’s assertion that the Red Devils did not “want it” as much as Newcastle on a day they were dominated throughout.
“I was surprised that we couldn’t match the determination and passion of the opponent,” he said.
“You know when you travel to Newcastle what will be going on, especially when you win the (Carabao) Cup (last month). If you want to win the big games you have to be mature and I didn’t see that on the pitch.
“They played above their levels because they were so eager. You could expect that, they lost a big game against us. You have to match that, be aware of the situation from the start. We didn’t.
“I think we have to do much better.”
The Dutchman resorted to substituting his two centre halves for attacking players which prompted Gary Neville to label the team that finished the game a “mess”.
Ten Hag countered: “It’s always difficult when you run out of time and you have to risk certain things at the back when you bring extra offensive players in. You have to try it.”