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Opinion

Chris Sutton with dubious comments on Eddie Howe taking Newcastle United job

3 weeks ago
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Chris Sutton has been speaking about Eddie Howe’s appointment as Newcastle United Head Coach.

Monday seeing the eventual formal confirmation after we’d seen on Saturday that effectively he’d definitely got the job, when seen sitting with Amanda Staveley watching the Brighton match.

Chris Sutton was / is a fully paid up member of the Steve Bruce fan club, regularly goading and ridiculing Newcastle fans for simply pointing out the obvious.

Chris Sutton refusing to accept that Bruce had to go despite appalling football and tactics, with most importantly a shocking set of results, no wins at all in the opening nine games of this 2021/22 season despite a generous set of opening fixtures, as well as that longer terrible record of only seven wins in his final thirty eight games.

The BBC pundit states the obvious in that Eddie Howe has a big challenge to take on at St James Park but that would have been the same for whoever took the job.

Nobody pretends that the Newcastle United owners making it public via the media that they were expecting Unai Emery to take the job, was anything but an unnecessary mess. However, at the same time they were putting out the message that Eddie Howe was their second choice if Emery didn’t come to Tyneside.

It is wrong for Chris Sutton, or whoever else, to make out like Eddie Howe was an after thought, a last ditch saloon, when it is far from the truth. Howe was one of a number of candidates who along with their representatives held a series of talks / interviews with the Newcastle owners, with as I said above, the outcome being that Unai Emery was their first choice with Eddie Howe just behind him.

No disgrace in going for and identifying as first choice a manager like Emery who has won a lot of trophies and managed clubs such as Sevilla, Arsenal and PSG, only to then appoint the next on their pecking order when the Spaniard eventually said no. Once again, the only major mistake they did make was when making it public that Unai Emery was their top choice and they expected him to come.

Whilst praising Eddie Howe for his brand of football, Chris Sutton questions whether this will be right for Newcastle’s situation, Sutton questioning Howe’s recruitment in the past.

Chris Sutton declaring: ‘Do Newcastle United have the players where they can really play an expansive game? I’m not so sure they do.’

Funnily enough, we never heard Chris Sutton questioning his mate Steve Bruce’s recruitment at Newcastle United

If Newcastle United do have a strength in their team, then surely it should be on the attacking rather than defensive side of things.

In his first 14 months at the club, Steve Bruce spent £80m on attacking players Wilson, Saint-Maximin and Joelinton, as well as inheriting £20m signing Miguel Almiron who had arrived only six months earlier and had helped transform Newcastle into one of the best attacking threats in the Premier League – Rafa’s final 16 games producing the fifth highest number of goals and fifth highest number of points in the Premier League, with Almiron key to that.

You also had Steve Bruce backed with the high profile and high wages Ryan Fraser who allowed his contract to run down and out, before then the £25m signing of Joe Willock added to the mix.

Eddie Howe will be definitely looking to put the emphasis on attack because with that set of players – Wilson, ASM, Almiron, Willock, Fraser and Joelinton, not to mention Gayle as well as part of the group, they are surely capable of far better than we have seen than under Bruce, or indeed Jones in his three games in charge.

At the back? Steve Bruce has turned the same group of players from the seventh best defence (in terms of goals conceded) in both of Rafa’s Premier League seasons, to a complete mess with only Norwich even worse this season, when it comes to defending.

Even there though you wonder at both team selection and tactics / organisation under Steve Bruce, with players such as Swiss international Fabian Schar and Argentine international Federico Fernandez not able to get a game, whilst Steve Bruce paid £15m for Jamal Lewis but didn’t give him a single PL start in his final eight months at Newcastle.

A massive job for Eddie Howe but this group of players are capable of far better than Chris Sutton thinks and it is just a case of how quickly Howe can begin to repair the damage inflicted by Bruce.

At least we can be relieved that no longer we will have the farce of so many days holiday away from the training pitch as we saw under Steve Bruce. Whilst when it comes to the January window, Chris Sutton and others may be surprised when the emphasis could be far more on bringing in players in central defence, wing backs / full backs and central holding / all action midfielders, rather than so much players up front.

Chris Sutton speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live:

“He [Eddie Howe] clearly wasn’t first choice.

“I don’t think Newcastle have handled this situation overly well with that leaked proposal. Then Unai Emery essentially turning them down. They had to get someone in.

“Look,,,I like Eddie Howe.

“I think he is a smart guy but he has got one hell of a job on.

“I think January is going to be absolutely key.

“I think if you look at his managerial record, the way that his team played at Bournemouth, I thought they were a breath of fresh air, [but] he lost it in the end.

“His recruitment the last couple of years at Bournemouth wasn’t that impressive.

“He has got to get his recruitment right in January…but it is about staying up, isn’t it?

“It will be interesting, the brand of football that Newcastle play under Eddie, especially early on.

“Do Newcastle United have the players where they can really play an expansive game?

“I’m not so sure they do.

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