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Eddie Howe denies Newcastle United ‘chaos’ claim as Magpies secure late Bournemouth point

NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe is adamant that “chaos” has not crept into his Newcastle United side, despite yet another error-strewn, goal-laden encounter.

Following on from the eight-goal, 4-4 home draw with Luton Town last time out for the Magpies, as well as a 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest, Howe’s men rescued a last-gasp point in a 2-2 draw with AFC Bournemouth.

While it is yet another game unbeaten, it does see Newcastle’s winless run on Tyneside stretch to almost three months by the next time they line up at St. James’ Park.

After a goalless first 45, Dominik Solanke pounced on a Martin Dubravka slip to net an opener against the run of play.

That strike seemed to spark the home side into life as Anthony Gordon then netted from the spot for 1-1.

Antoine Semenyo then bagged what looked to be a winner with a long-distance effort, but the game produced an unlikely late hero as veteran winger Matt Ritchie popped up with a leveler in added time against his former club to ensure Howe’s men secured a share of the spoils.

The game itself, to the casual watcher, had another air of chaos to it, much like many of the Magpies’ recent performances. But Howe refuted that claim when pushed in the aftermath of the encounter.

“I don’t think it was chaos today, I think it was a different game to Luton. I don’t think we were in that state of chaos as much as we were against Luton. We played with more control today but not as much control as we want, and certainly Bournemouth had their moments but they’ve got dangerous players,” he said, jumping to his players’ defense.

“We can’t underestimate their qualities, and they’re always going to be a threat with the pace they have on transitions. I think in the main we coped with them pretty well, but we’re not at our very best at the moment.

“I’m well aware, and I’m sure people that watch us regularly are well aware, that we’re not at full power at the moment and we’re not at our fluent best, but I think there are reasons for that.

“We’re a little bit disjointed. We’ve got players playing today that aren’t in their best positions given a free hand, but I have to say everyone has given as much as they can to try and get consistent results.

“I think we have to look at the positive side rather than the negative. It’s another game unbeaten for us and we’re returning to getting points. That was a big late goal for us, just keeps that momentum we’ve got. Of course we’re looking for three points at home in every game, so we’re disappointed with certain aspects as well.”

Goal scorer Ritchie has barely featured for the Magpies in the last two years, having been a key player for them since his 2016 switch from the Cherries.

And it was a bit of a surprise to see him summoned from the bench on the day — even more so to see him score.

Howe said: “Matt Ritchie probably epitomizes that more than anybody for what he’s given me and the group while he’s been out the team. Behind the scenes he’s been truly incredible, and I’m just so pleased he’s had a moment where everyone gets to talk about him and recognizes his qualities.

“He’s someone that drives standards, very vocal, very enthusiastic — even in the changing room before the game he’s the one driving the group, and that’s someone who hasn’t played as much as he would’ve wanted to. But he’s putting the team ahead of himself and his own needs.

“When you see someone you just hope at one stage they do get their reward. I try to reward him with my value of him being as high as he can be, knowing how important he is to the group. I desperately wanted to keep him here last year because of those standards he drives and because he’s a role model. He gives experience to the players in ways probably I don’t know, so for him to get that moment and score that goal, I’m delighted for him.”

While Ritchie bagged the headlines, it was another player, Dan Burn, who continues to face criticism in light of yet another patchy display.

Howe was not interested in discussing the player’s recent drop in form, or his role in Bournemouth’s second goal, with the head coach not looking for any scapegoats for the result.

“I’m not dealing with that kind of thought in my mind,” said Howe. “It’s not about finding someone to blame, it’s about finding solutions … I could sit here until 12 p.m. at night and evaluate everyone’s performance, mine included, and pick holes in it but for me, it’s always been about finding solutions. The second goal wouldn’t have just come from one individual’s mistake. I’m telling you now, I’ll watch that goal again and there will be three or four individual mistakes. People may highlight one person but in my job, you can’t do that.”

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