‘Feeling of injustice’: Howe speaks out as Newcastle contact league over referees
Newcastle United have written to the Premier League requesting “clarity” regarding a series of recent contentious refereeing decisions which have gone against them during defeats against Manchester City, Liverpool and Leicester City.
At Leicester a penalty was awarded against Eddie Howe’s side despite Brendan Rodgers’ midfielder James Maddison appearing to have initiated the contact; Diogo Jota scored for Liverpool at a moment when Newcastle’s Isaac Hayden was down with a head injury; and last Sunday against City, Ederson seemed to clearly foul Newcastle’s Ryan Fraser but no penalty was awarded.
“All we’re asking for is some clarity on the decisions and how the officials have come to those decisions,” said Howe, whose relegation-threatened side have won only one game all season and face Manchester United at St James’ Park on Monday night. “That’s all we’re asking for to help the processes for the future. Those decisions have influenced the results, I’ve got no doubt about that.
“There’s definitely a feeling of injustice among our group. There’s been disbelief in the games at a few of the things that have gone against us. When VAR was first introduced I think it was used regularly to try to get the right decision. But I think the use of it has been diluted and I don’t see it effectively intervening as much as it did in a positive way. The use of VAR as far as we’re concerned has definitely been a bit contentious.”
While Howe hopes to make referees think twice before declining to offer his side the benefit of the doubt he has also questioned Newcastle’s “unfair” schedule which dictates that his players will fulfil their fourth fixture in just over a fortnight against Manchester United but the visitors will be playing for the first time since 11 December.
Whereas Manchester United are one of a number of sides to have seen fixtures postponed by Covid outbreaks among their squad, other teams, including Newcastle, have soldiered on after remaining largely virus-free. Along the way Howe’s side have collected injuries at a time when two relegation rivals, Burnley and Watford, have been able to give some key players a fortnight’s rest. Leeds were in a similar position to Newcastle but on Thursday their Boxing Day game was called off.
“For the benefit of the league you want everybody to be treated the same and you want a level playing field,” said Howe. “With the postponements some teams have not been playing while others, like us, have played. You also have January to think about. If teams have a fixture backlog and those games get moved to February or March they can then play new January signings in them.
“I think it’s questionable whether the current situation has been fair to everybody. Moving one of our games would be nice because we’re in a position where we’re playing a lot and our players are fatigued and carrying injuries.
“The trouble when players carry injuries into games is that it only makes your squad smaller. That’s what we’re currently faced with and it’s proving very difficult for us.”