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What are people talking about? Difference between Steve Bruce and Eddie Howe is night and day

4 months ago

“Nothing has changed” – well that would be true, if we were talking about fans moaning.

Although, we have had a bloody good reason to, for the past 14 years.

Understandably, the reaction to this weekend’s draw with Watford, on the back of a terrible FA Cup exit and a largely frustrating week in the transfer window, has led to a massive negative reaction from fans.

The boos from a small minority at the final whistle yesterday were probably deserved. Not down to the manager, or a lack of effort from the players, but a complete lack of character that has become symptomatic of the side since Steve Bruce stepped through the door.

This remains Eddie Howe’s biggest problem right now. It remains largely the same team put together by Steve Bruce, and Lee Charnley…or in actual truth, by Rafa Benitez in the Championship six years ago!

The core of the 13 Newcastle players who featured against Watford (Dubravka, Lascelles, Schar, Dummett, Shelvey, Longstaff, Almiron, Murphy) were part of a squad that struggled along under the guidance of Benitez. That list of players doesn’t even include Clark, Fernandez, Manquillo, Ritchie, Hayden and Dwight Gayle who all still take up a squad place.

To expect a drastic turn of results from Eddie Howe, managing this crop of players who were lucky not to be rated past it by Newcastle United three years ago, never mind today, is expecting miracles.

What has changed though?

I think there is a lot to be positive about…so long as Howe is given lots of money to improve the squad over the next two weeks.

The differences in performances since Howe took over have been striking.

If we glance over games in which we were expected to lose against Arsenal, Liverpool, Leicester and Man City (btw we did well in all of them despite what the scorelines suggest).

We were by far the better team against Brentford, unlucky not to win the game with our failure to take chances and poor at the back.

A moment of madness meant we played with 10 men against Norwich, and still dominated and nearly won the game.

We beat Burnley, almost beat Manchester United and were the better team against Watford yesterday. All with pretty much the same side that we thought were down and out under Bruce.

It’s no excuse at all for last week’s FA Cup result but we battered Cambridge in the first half and if we had someone on the pitch, aside from ASM, who could put the ball in the back of the net, then it would have been 4-0 at half-time.

That is a massive improvement which sadly has not translated into positive results just yet.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching us play under Eddie Howe compared to Steve Bruce. We have far more possession of the ball, we are playing with far greater intensity with us actively pressing the opponents, rather than letting every single team we play walk all over us and just hope for the best.

Defensive issues remain the same but that looks largely down to how poor the individuals at the back are. Lascelles, Clark and Ritchie have all individually been at fault for us dropping points recently. As of yet, Howe has no other choice and the pressure will be on once better players come in.

We create far more chances under Howe than we do under Bruce, it’s just a shame that we only have two players in the entire squad with the quality to put the ball in the net (Wilson and ASM).

If those two players had more support, or if injuries allowed them to play together more often, then you’d have to think we’d have more points on the board.

The main point being though, that there is quite clearly a plan. There are tactics. There is logic in the team selections (even if at first, Howe made a few errors when selecting individuals). That is all a far cry from the Steve Bruce guess-game hot potato selections, which made absolutely no sense at all.

We now have players playing in their actual positions.

The winger Ryan Fraser now plays on the wing. The left back Jamal Lewis now plays at left back. Eddie Howe has transformed Joelinton into an actual footballer, rather than a Brazilian nomad who got on the wrong flight to the wrong place at the wrong time. Best of all, the likes of Willock, Almiron, Hendrick, Krafth, Ritchie, Darlow and Clark have all found their best position in Howe’s preferred X1…on the substitutes bench.

Obviously they need to sign players. Lascelles is not good enough, neither is Schar…and that probably makes us think Fernandez is better than what he is too. Shelvey and Longstaff are probably our two best centre midfielders, yet they are probably the worst starting centre midfielders in the division. Aside from ASM, we have nothing going forward. Willock and Almiron are atrocious. With Murphy, Ritchie, Gayle all past their sell by date.

Trippier is an obvious improvement and Chris Wood can only be an improvement when you consider there was nobody there for him to improve on. However, it will be the signings in central defence and central midfield which will define the next couple of months.

Most importantly in defence of Eddie Howe and the ludicrous suggestions that things are similar to Steve Bruce, is that there is no bullsh.t coming out of his mouth. No lies. No deceit. The respect is there and everyone is trying to push in the right direction. The relationship between the fans and the manager is one of respect. I can see what he is trying to do and it is our job as supporters to help him.

Let’s have a bit of perspective and take context into account.

You have to be optimistic about the future, even if the team’s short-term future may not be in the Premier League next season.

Howe has already shown that is a good coach with the team’s organisation improving greatly but the guy is not a miracle worker who can turn bad players into  good players overnight. The proof will be in the pudding when he has a team of his own making.

Sure results have been similar but the difference between the Newcastle United today and the Newcastle united three months ago, is literally night and day. It’s two different clubs.

PS Rafa is not the answer.

You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @jonnyinsg


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