Until Sunday Pep Guardiola had won all 10 of his previous Premier League meetings with Eddie Howe but after their 11th encounter resulted in a 3-3 draw of the highest calibre at St James’ Park, the Manchester City manager’s praise for his Newcastle counterpart proved unstinting.
“He’s has done a top-class job,” said Guardiola, whose champions were 3-1 down at one point. “You can see his team is growing. Newcastle have everything; they have pace, they have quality.
“They made it very physical, it’s a very difficult place to come. We started very well but Newcastle were so aggressive, we didn’t have control. Newcastle are becoming one of the toughest opponents but we created a lot of chances and, in the end, we showed who we are.”
On an afternoon when City’s defensive vulnerabilities were highlighted with John Stones, especially, struggling at centre‑half, Erling Haaland, who scored his side’s second goal, the increasingly influential Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva, the scorer of the final goal, ultimately rescued a point.
City might have won had a VAR review not overturned the straight red card shown to Newcastle’s captain, Kieran Trippier, following a high lunge at De Bruyne but Guardiola refused to be drawn on an incident he claimed he “did not watch”.
Instead City’s manager, whose side had led through Ilkay Gundogan’s fifth-minute opener before Miguel Almiron, Callum Wilson and Trippier propelled Newcastle into a 3-1 lead, preferred to praise the performances of the home side’s French winger Allan Saint‑Maximin and the England goalkeeper Nick Pope. “Saint‑Maximin was so good,” Guardiola said. “He’s a difficult weapon.”
Howe, who had lost eight meetings with Guardiola while in charge of Bournemouth and two at Newcastle last season, was left smiling. “Hopefully this is a glimpse of the future for Newcastle United,” he said. “We’re a bit disappointed not to win but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
“It was Maxi’s best performance since I’ve managed him. He was electric. He got every aspect of the game right and gave us a totally different dimension. The challenge for Maxi now is can he do it every week.”
Howe admitted Trippier’s non‑red card was “a huge turning point” but did not feel the challenge merited a sending off. “We rode our luck at times but, for where I want to get to, I don’t see any point sitting deep against the top teams. The top teams are aggressive and brave so that’s the approach we need, too.”