‘They could be the best of the rest’: Alan Shearer lauds Newcastle after their impressive start to the season … as Toon legend hails ‘superb’ Allan Saint-Maximin masterclass in Sunday’s 3-3 draw with Man City
- Newcastle produced a brilliant performance to draw with Man City on Sunday
- Eddie Howe’s side sit in fifth place after the 3-3 draw and remain unbeaten
- Club legend Alan Shearer believes they could be the ‘best of the rest’ this year
- He also hailed Allan Saint-Maximin after the tricky winger laid on three assists
Alan Shearer has hailed Newcastle after their breathless 3-3 draw with Manchester City on Sunday and believes they could be the ‘best of the rest’ in the Premier League this season.
Eddie Howe’s side pushed the Premier League champions all the way at St James’ Park, leading 3-1 before City fought back in the second half to share the spoils.
Newcastle sit in fifth place with five points from their first three games, meaning former Bournemouth manager Howe boasts a record of 14 wins and 49 points from 30 Premier League games since he took over in November.
Following Sunday’s 3-3 draw with Man City, Newcastle remain unbeaten after three games
Allan Saint-Maximin was in fine form at St James’ Park and gave Kyle Walker a torrid afternoon
Alan Shearer was full of praise for Newcastle and believes they can be the ‘best of the rest’
And former Toon striker Shearer believes Newcastle’s impressive start means they may be the league’s best side outside of the traditional top six.
‘Newcastle could have a chance of being the best of the rest this season,’ he told BBC Sport.
‘One aim for the Magpies, without doubt, will be to improve upon last season when they finished 11th. In fact, they were only three points adrift of eighth place after a shocking start.
‘Five points from three games this time, considering they had champions City and Brighton away, makes it a really positive start.
‘I feel a Europa Conference League spot is a realistic target, which you can achieve by claiming seventh spot.’
Eddie Howe has transformed the Magpies since he became Newcastle manager in November
The new ownership have galvanised the team and supporters after the toxic Mike Ashley reign
Saint-Maximin ran Walker ragged at St James’ Park and provided three assists on Sunday
Shearer was buoyant after Newcastle’s display on Sunday and reserved special praise for tricky winger Allan Saint-Maximin.
The Frenchman has often been criticised for his final product but dazzled, providing three assists and giving England and City stalwart Kyle Walker a torrid afternoon.
He said: ‘Allan Saint-Maximin ran Kyle Walker ragged. The England full-back had his socks on inside out at full-time.
‘I can’t remember a player running past him as many times as that in a game. There is no doubt Saint-Maximin has the ability. His final ball was superb against City.
‘The Frenchman has provided four assists for Callum Wilson in the league now – the most he has given for any Newcastle player – which just shows the understanding that the pair have.
‘If they can stay fit, then they will create chances, particularly if Saint-Maximin plays like that. When he is on song, he is very difficult to stop.’
Former Bournemouth manager Howe has helped to transform the club under new ownership since he arrived on Tyneside.
Howe has won 14 out of his 30 Premier League games and helped the club survive last year
The boisterous atmosphere at St James’ Park outlines the feel-good factor at the club
Club legend Shearer was delighted with the club’s start and believes it is ‘exciting times’
The boisterous atmosphere at St James’ Park and aggressive football on offer is a far cry from the back end of the Mike Ashley era under the management of Steve Bruce and Shearer was thrilled with where the club were at.
‘The last time Newcastle went unbeaten in their first three games at the beginning of a season was in 2011-12 under Alan Pardew, when they eventually finished fifth, so this start under Eddie Howe is a damn sight better than it has been in recent years.
‘It is really exciting times for Newcastle, considering where they were a few years back and at the beginning of last season.
‘When Howe took over in November, the side were 19th in the table and five points from safety. Look at where they are now – and look at the hope that the city and football club has.
‘At the minute, the strategy is working for Newcastle. The owners have galvanised the club and supporters after the toxicity of the Mike Ashley reign.
‘The second half of last season was superb – only Liverpool (48) and City (46) collected more points than Newcastle’s 38 in that period – and they have carried the good work on into this term.’