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Opinion

‘Eddie Howe timeline is more than good enough for me’

2 weeks ago
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Eddie Howe has been in the Newcastle United job only a week and is yet to face a single game.

However, that hasn’t stopped the all too predictable analysis from many of the usual suspects, who unsurprisingly come to the conclusion that it hasn’t been a positive appointment by the new owners.

The thing is, you just know that this would have been the case no matter who the Newcastle United owners had replaced Steve Bruce with, whether it was Klopp, Guardiola, Tuchel, or whoever…

If it had been Unai Emery the narrative would have been all about how he didn’t do great in his brief time at Arsenal, rather than the sizeable number of trophies he’s won elsewhere.

If Steven Gerrard, it would have been all about how he’s only managed in the Scottish pub league, rather than how he’s completely turned upside down the balance of power north of the border and done decent in Europe.

If Roberto Martinez, the headlines would have been all about how he’s been out of club management for so long and he is just lucky with the current players available for Belgium now, rather than how he has them ranked number one in the world and proved himself a decent Premier League manager in the past.

So, no surprise that the usual suspects such as Richard Keys and so many other pundits and journalists are already trying to undermine the Eddie Howe appointment, no doubt on their hands and knees every night praying that games will be lost and we can be lectured on how Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley weren’t the problem…

As for what I think, well…

This Eddie Howe timeline is more than good enough for me…

Injury ended his playing career prematurely and started coaching early even before that, as a player / coach for Bournemouth at age of 29.

Aged only 31, Eddie Howe became Bournemouth manager in January 2009 and despite the club in a desperate state and having started the season with a 17 point deduction, he kept them from falling out of the football league.

2009/10 and his first full season as a manager, despite a transfer embargo, Howe got Bournemouth promoted to League One as runners-up in League Two.

Midway through the following (2010/11) season, Eddie Howe took on the job of rebuilding Burnley after their relegation from the Premier League, ending that season eighth in the Championship.

2011/12 and Burnley finished 13th in the second tier under Howe.

In October 2012, still only aged 34, Eddie Howe accepted the opportunity to rejoin Bournemouth and returning to where his family live. Howe citing family reasons, his mother having died, whilst Eddie Howe himself was in the process of starting his own family (now has three kids in total).  On the pitch the move worked out as well, Howe getting Bournemouth promoted to the Championship in the runners up spot, only one point off Doncaster at the very top.

2013/14 and Bournemouth ended the season six points off the play-offs in tenth.

2014/15 and Bournemouth went up as champions, scoring 98 goals and accumulating 90 points, the first time ever that this tiny club had reached the English top tier.

2015/16 Premier League 16th with 42 points, scoring 45 and conceding 67.

2016/17 Premier League 9th with 46 points, scoring 55 and conceding 67.

2017/18 Premier League 12th with 44 points, scoring 45 and conceding 61.

2018/19 Premier League 14th with 45 points, scoring 56 and conceding 70.

2019/20 Premier League 18th with 34 points, scoring 40 and conceding 65.

Conclusions

Looking at the above, I make it that so far Eddie Howe has been a manager in nine full seasons. In two of those he got promotion from League Two and the Championship, whilst in five of the remaining seven he was managing in the Premier League. Which leaves two other full seasons where Eddie Howe ended 13th in the Championship with Burnley, plus 10th in the Championship with Bournemouth instantly the season after promotion from League One.

When you add initially saving Bournemouth from falling into non-league football in his first part season (2008/09) in charge AND the part season (2012/13) which completes his full set of promotions from League Two to the Premier League, it is a pretty impressive record all round. Especially if you accept that once getting promotion to the top tier, realistically for such a small club with 10,000 crowds, it was always going to be a fight each season to keep that PL status.

Lines of attack

There would appear to be three main lines of attack when it comes to those wanting to pick holes in Eddie Howe’s record (so far):

Firstly, what happened with Burnley.

A bit of a non-event really in football terms, left them pretty much where he found them midway in the Championship. His mother’s death the main tipping point on Howe (at the age of only 34) returning to the south coast after 21 months in the job, as opposed to some massive aversion to managing anywhere other than the south coast.

Secondly, relegation.

Unlucky to go down on very final day of season, only by one point and a questionable VAR decision deciding it. It was almost inevitable relegation would happen sometime and a number of factors going against Eddie Howe and Bournemouth, such as key injuries and loss of form for certain individuals, plus Ryan Fraser effectively being a liability that season as he ran his contract down so he could leave as a free agent. It wasn’t like they collapsed or anything.

Thirdly, goals conceded.

This is clearly the one that Eddie Howe does have to meet head on.

Conceding between 61 and 70 goals in all of the five Premier League seasons is something that needs major improvement BUT at the same time you have to accept that Eddie Howe plays an attacking style of football which creates more chances and goals at the other end.

Worth noting that in two of his first four PL seasons, Howe’s Bournemouth scored 55 and 56 PL goals. To put that into context, only twice in Mike Ashley’s entire time in control did Newcastle score more than 46 goals in a Premier League season AND you have to go back to 2002/03 (69 goals scored under Sir Bobby) when NUFC last scored more than 56 goals in a Premier League season.

Age factor

I think it is also important to recognise also, just where Eddie Howe is, in terms of his potential management career possibilities.

These are the ages of the 20 Premier League bosses:

70 Claudio Ranieri

66 Marcelo Bielsa

61 Rafa Benitez

58 David Moyes

54 Ralph Hasenhuttl, Jurgen Klopp

52 Antonio Conte

50 Dean Smith, Sean Dyche, Pep Guardiola

48 Thomas Frank, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Brendan Rodgers, Thomas Tuchel

46 Graham Potter

45 Patrick Vieira, Bruno Lage

43 Eddie Howe

41 Steven Gerrard

39 Mikel Arteta

As you can see, only two Premier League managers / head coaches are younger than the man at Newcastle United.

Eddie Howe has already packed so much into this decade or so of an apprenticeship that will hopefully have prepared him for even bigger and better things, an apprenticeship that surely has to be seen as a massive success in what he achieved overall at a club such as Bournemouth.

Howe does of course still have to do it BUT he has shown plenty to suggest he can deliver results AND good football. Now working with the most expensive squad he’s ever had, with serious support on top of that to come, if we all pull together then every chance Eddie Howe can come out the other side of these current immediate challenges that face Newcastle United.

Worth mentioning as well that rather than being idle, Eddie Howe has when possible spent much of these 15 months out of management, travelling to get various lessons, insight and inspiration from others in the UK and overseas.

Plus, as a person, it says it all that when the pandemic hit, Eddie Howe was the first Premier League manager to volunteer for a pay cut when the virus affected club finances. I’m not sure exactly how many, if any, followed Howe’s lead. I certainly didn’t hear this happen at Newcastle United with Howe’s predecessor…

So, a big welcome to Eddie Howe.

A new Head Coach who is renowned for the amount of time he spends on the training pitch and who speaks with both intelligence and passion, when discussing football.

Newcastle fans have already shown their approval for certain Eddie Howe moment already, such as at the training ground before 7am for his first day at work, plus the work that he has put in with NUFC players having to now get used to the amount of time on the training pitch that is expected at a well run ambitious club.

Whether Eddie Howe proves to be a success or not at Newcastle United will of course depend on so many factors, including luck!

However, he is a very young manager (certainly by Premier League standards) with so much potential and clearly a great work ethic.

If he doesn’t succeed, it won’t be due to any lack of effort.

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