LIVERPOOL: Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe refused to point the finger at Kieran Trippier as the Magpies capitulated in the Premier League at Everton.
Three individual errors, as the game looked to be heading toward a 0-0 draw, saw the relegation-threatened Toffees claim all three points at Goodison Park on Thursday.
Late strikes from Dwight McNeil and Abdoulaye Doucoure, after Trippier handed them possession inexplicably, saw the hosts on their way, before the England fullback played substitute Beto onside as he slotted home the third in added time.
Despite that, Howe refused to blame Trippier.
The head coach said: “Kieran has been absolutely magnificent since signing for the club and has been the catalyst of our success. Collectively we were off our best today.
“We have to do better, there are reasons behind every performance and we have struggled to change players. That is a big miss with the quality of players out. The longer you do it, the harder it gets. I am disappointed, a missed opportunity, we did not grab it.”
While Newcastle’s home form has been up there with the title challengers, their away form has been the exact opposite. Howe’s side have won just one game in the Premier League away from St James’ Park, the 8-0 mauling of Sheffield United back in September.
“The game was there for us to win in the second half. The first half was even and we had them penned in in the second half. We conceded the first goal and it changed the momentum of the match. Frustrating and a chance missed,” he said.
“Last year our away form was good, free-scoring and the defensive record was good. We have not got going on the road, apart from the Sheffield United game. Something for us to analyze.”
In a season full of injury blows, the Magpies again suffered a scare with skipper Jamaal Lascelles withdrawn late on. Howe, however, has allayed fears this particular injury is anything serious.
Howe said: “I don’t think it is a serious one, it looks like a dead leg.”
He added: “You have to take into account Lewis Miley and his age, a huge ask but he handled himself really well. We have a lot of difficult situations at the moment which we have to manage. Today I have to call the performance as I see it, we weren’t at our best.”
Next up for United is another tough-looking trip to Tottenham Hotspur, who have also been faltering due to injuries.
“The beauty of football is that you have another game. We are desperate for help with players back and hopefully that will happen,” said Howe.