Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has told his players they cannot be satisfied with reaching the Carabao Cup final and challenged them to win it to end the club’s 54-year trophy drought.
Tuesday night’s 2-1 semi-final second leg victory over Southampton at a packed St James’ Park secured a 3-1 aggregate success and kept alive the Magpies’ hopes of landing a first piece of major silverware since 1969 and a first domestic prize since the 1955 FA Cup.
However, with either Manchester United or Nottingham Forest awaiting them at Wembley on February 26, head coach Howe insists they cannot be done yet.
He said: “You always want something. We’ve achieved what we wanted to achieve, which was getting to the final, but then you say, ‘Well, I’m not happy with that, we want to win it’.
“I think that’s a great thing and I want my players to feel the same way.
“We really want to embrace our past and be very proud of what’s happened here before, but we also want to create new history for ourselves so that’s what we’re determined to do.”
Victory on the night perhaps fittingly came courtesy of local boy Sean Longstaff’s early double, with Che Adams’ stinging reply enough only to prompt minor concern despite Bruno Guimaraes’ late red card for a challenge on substitute Sam Edozie.
Asked about Longstaff’s contribution, Howe said: “Sean’s just a really level-headed lad. He loves the club, he’s Newcastle through and through.
“I’m so pleased that he’s got the headlines tonight. The two goals were great finishes.
“His all-round performances this season have been excellent. He’s getting the rewards for what I saw last year.
“He didn’t play for me initially but behind the scenes, I saw a player that was really committed to his training, really wanted to improve, so I’m delighted now he’s getting the rewards for that.”
Guimaraes, who has played a huge role in Newcastle’s surge to the final, left the pitch in tears but will be available once again for the trip to headquarters after sitting out Premier League clashes with West Ham, Bournemouth and Liverpool through suspension.
Howe said: “There’s no intent, absolutely zero intent. I thought the red card was harsh, but it’s happened and we have to deal with it.”
Opposite number Nathan Jones admitted his side had been made to pay for a slow start which left them trailing 2-0 after just 21 minutes.
Jones said: “Look, congratulations to Newcastle, they’re a fantastic side and they’ve, on the whole over the two legs, probably deserved it.
“We’re really, really disappointed with the first 15, 20 minutes because we gave ourselves a mountain to climb.
“They’re poor goals to give away. The reaction was fantastic, we got a goal and then I thought we were the better side from then on in.
“But to ask yourselves to score three goals at St James’ Park to take the game to extra time, for example, is a big, big ask because these don’t concede goals.”