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Opinion

Eddie Howe dismissing December fear factor

1 week ago
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Eddie Howe will have plenty to think about after watching Saturday’s game.

Forced to tune in from a distance due to a positive covid result on Saturday, the new Newcastle United Head Coach will wonder whether a case of a point won or two lost?

When you go 2-1 and 3-2 down and are trailing with fifteen minutes remaining, then surely you have to believe this was a point gained.

However, for the vast majority of Newcastle fans and indeed the media, this Brentford game was billed as a ‘must win’ for NUFC.

The belief being three very winnable home games in a row, before a (supposedly) horrific set of fixtures to follow.

The thing is, football very rarely works out as you expect it and for what it is worth, I am sure that Eddie Howe will be dismissing this December fear factor that has taken hold. With so many people believing Newcastle United are doomed if not picking up wins ahead of that run of games that follow.

Here is the upcoming Newcastle United schedule….

Saturday 27 November 12.30pm – Arsenal away (BT Sport)

Tuesday 30 November 7.30pm – Norwich home (Amazon Prime)

Saturday 4 December 3pm – Burnley home

Sunday 12 December 2pm – Leicester away (Sky Sports)

Thursday 16 December 8pm – Liverpool away (BT Sport)

Sunday 19 December 2pm – Man City home (Sky Sports)

Monday 27 December 8pm – Man Utd home (Sky Sports)

Thursday 30 December 7.30pm – Everton away (Amazon Prime)

Sunday 2 January 2pm – Southampton away

Saturday 15 January 3pm – Watford home

Saturday 22 January 3pm – Leeds away

I think fair to say that anything from this coming Saturday would be a bonus, we rarely ever get anything at Arsenal and Arteta has them on a run of four wins and a draw in their last five home PL matches.

However, after that match, I think it will be game on for Eddie Howe and a real belief Newcastle United can start to climb out of trouble, if of course the level of performance can be built on from the positives against Brentford AND start to improve at the back. With Dubravka set to return, maybe the likes of Manquillo, Fernandez and Lewis also getting a chance once Eddie Howe has a proper look, plus finding a formation / tactics that best suits the players he currently has available. No reason for me, why we can’t see significant improvement under Howe. After all, on Saturday we already saw a completely different Joelinton with the benefit of only a week and a half of better more intensive training and preparation under the new Head Coach. ASM also bouncing back to the kind of performance and threat he’d shown in the early games this season.

Brentford showed they are no mugs and I don’t think they will be in danger of being bottom three, whilst I also think Newcastle could spring a surprise and get something at Arsenal, if still carrying an attacking threat, plus Dubravka leading a tightening up exercise at the back.

With Norwich at home to follow, obviously this is a game we have to hope and expect to win.

However, I don’t see then December as some total write off as so many are suggesting.

In the same fixtures last season, the results were: Newcastle 3 Burnley 1, Leicester 2 Newcastle 4, Liverpool 1 Newcastle 1, Newcastle 3 Man City 4, Newcastle 1 Man Utd 4, Everton 0 Newcastle 2.

No guarantees of course but if history did repeat and gave Newcastle 10 points from these six fixtures, we would definitely be heading in the right direction.

These same players achieved those results last season and it was under Steve Bruce…

If we have belief in Eddie Howe, why shouldn’t we believe in similar results?

I think he can get this team playing and Burnley are obviously struggling badly as well, whilst Everton have four defeats and two draws in their last six, with Leicester having won only two of their last nine PL games. Under Steve Bruce, far too often it felt like winning the next match was impossible, with Bruce building up almost every opposition team as world beaters and setting his team up accordingly. Yes the defending was poor overall on Saturday BUT if Dubravka had been playing I think it would have been a comfortable win, as for starters he definitely would have prevented the first and third goals.

These December fixtures, if you go back to 2019/20, Brucey actually beat Man Utd 1-0 at home and got a 2-2 draw against Man City. Look at Watford on Saturday, they had a go at Man Utd and deservedly beat them.

Honestly, I always thought there was minimal chance of beating all of Brentford, Norwich and Burnley in these three home matches in a row, BUT I also thought minimal chance of the rest of December being the kind of write off others are predicting.

The players are having to get used to playing football again, not just defending. Callum Wilson and others already commenting on how much tougher (and regular!) the training regime is and how the players are getting fitter than was the case under Steve Bruce, where it was so often just a case of trying to sit back and defend all match as the only tactic.

With a pretty much full squad to select from and ever increasing benefits from better training and fitness, better performances and results can follow.

I honestly don’t think in any way Newcastle United have one of the three worst squads in the Premier League, with then also strengthening expected in January.

It is so often small margins in the Premier League and at least since Steve Bruce left, Newcastle have only lost to the league leaders. The draws against Palace and Brighton may have been tough watches but along with this far more entertaining Brentford game, it has been an improvement on Steve Bruce opening the season with six defeats and three draws in nine games, those results coming in a very generous set of opening fixtures as well.

Eddie Howe can improve Newcastle United, both as individual players and as a team.

Luck may also need to come along and play a part but to a large extent you make your own luck. As the old saying goes, it is funny how the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Eddie Howe and the players are now working far harder than what went before, I think they will shortly be making their own luck in any number of games.

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