Scintillating City score five past Newcastle to take control of Premier League title race

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NEWCASTLE: Pep Guardiola believes the ambition of Newcastle United’s owners is to emulate the success of Manchester City.

Abu Dhabi-financed City are on course to win their fourth Premier League title under the Spaniard this season, their 11th trophy from the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss’ silverware-laden spell at the Etihad.

And while City, much like Qatari-bankrolled Paris Saint-Germain, have so far faltered in Europe, losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal this week, Guardiola is sure the Magpies and their Saudi Arabian-majority shareholders want a slice of their success.

Speaking ahead of United’s visit to Manchester in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, Guardiola said: “I think the intentions (of the owners) are like this. Without Sheikh Mansour and these incredible facilities and the CEO to get resources from the sponsors (this would not be possible). We are where we are. I haven’t spoken to the owners of Newcastle, but I think they are going to try and do it (like City). If they are going to do it, I don’t know. Nobody knows it.”

The recent history of both clubs could not be starker, with City rising from Premier League mid-table mediocrity to become arguably the most entertaining team on the planet, while Newcastle have flirted with relegation to the championship since the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia secured an 80 percent stake in the football club back in October.

It is widely accepted that Newcastle will not become a Manchester City overnight — and head coach Eddie Howe knows that building an empire at St. James’ Park will take time.

“I don’t know how Manchester City would categorize their rise, but it did take time,” said the United boss. “Nothing’s ever built overnight, and there needs to be a period where you adjust to your new status. Especially at a football club, you can’t wave a magic wand and change things straight away. You certainly can’t do it in one transfer window, it’s going to take time. You can’t change the dynamics of a team too quickly because if you do, you’re going to end up with a negative effect rather than a positive one.

“I think I’m well aware of that. But over time, I think you can definitely improve, make gains in every area, and then hopefully you can get the consistency the club is looking for in terms of their newfound status. 

“There’s no guarantee on that, that’s the beauty of football. There’s no guarantee on anything, no matter how much money is spent or what your finances are. But we have big ambitions. We’ll work toward being successful, but it may take time.”

A player who did not travel to Manchester to take on the reigning champions is Ryan Fraser.

The Scotland international’s calf injury had looked set to keep him out of action for the rest of the season when Howe last gave an update on the player’s status.

His prospects do now look to be improving, though, opening up the prospect of some game time in the final two matches of the campaign against Arsenal at home and Burnley away.

“He has improved. He’s been at the training ground out on the grass with the physios still, he’s not been handed over to sports scientist, so there is still some way to go,” said Howe. “Hopefully, we’ll see him before the end of the season.”

Meanwhile, Howe is hopeful that Sean Longstaff will soon put pen to paper on a new Newcastle deal, following in the footsteps of Fabian Schar and Paul Dummett.

Howe said: “I hope we can get a positive resolution with Sean. Hopefully, that one is moving quite well and (in) the right direction. But obviously, until he’s signed the contract, I can’t say for definite.”

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