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Opinion

Bitter rival Premier League manager blames ‘owned by a country’ for gulf in Newcastle United quality

4 weeks ago
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Back in October / November 2021 we saw furious activity in the Premier League manager market, in the space of only 32 days (20 October – 21 November 2021) five PL bosses lost their jobs – Steve Bruce, Nuno, Daniel Farke, Dean Smith and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

That was pretty ‘impressive’ because the previous 2020/21 season, only four Premier League managers had lost their jobs in the entire 38 game campaign.

A fourteen day period in November 2021 saw four new appointments as vacancies were filled, Antonio Conte at Spurs, Eddie Howe with Newcastle United, Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa, plus Dean Smith with Norwich.

I would like to concentrate on Dean Smith, sacked by Villa on 7 November and in the Norwich job by 15 November.

On Saturday, Dean Smith and Norwich took on Eddie Howe and Newcastle United, this was his take on the 0-3 result and the respective journeys the two clubs are now on…

“Newcastle United were a team that have spent £100m in the (January 2022) window and we have promoted an Under 23 player, that is the levels.

“You just look at the January window Newcastle have had.

“They have improved and Eddie (Howe) is an unbelievable coach, but they are owned pretty much by a country, so they are always going to improve.”

Surely this can’t be the same Dean Smith who was manager at Aston Villa?

After losing at Watford on the opening day of this 2021/22 season, Aston Villa were fortunate to run into Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United. Villa won 2-0 against the usual abysmal negative Bruce tactics, Newcastle with only one effort on target in the entire game and as we have since learnt from a number of NUFC players, the fitness levels of the Newcastle team were way below those of rival clubs in the early part of the season. We had already seen that in Newcastle’s first game of the season, 2-1 up at half-time but West Ham scoring three in the second-half and NUFC not one effort on target after the break as fitness told.

Anyway, back to money and the vast financial benefits of being owned by a country, according to Dean Smith.

Funnily enough, after beating Newcastle 2-0 in August 2021, the then Villa boss didn’t say ‘well of course we were expected to win, Newcastle have only signed one player in the last year and Mike Ashley didn’t even allow a single loan signing or free transfer in the summer 2021 window…’

Amusingly, Dean Smith also seems to have conveniently forgotten, that after Aston Villa got promoted in 2019, he was allowed to spend £143.55m (figures via Transfermarkt), then another £91.22m spent in 2020/21, before summer 2021 saw Dean Smith allowed to splash out another £89.84m.

In the space of around 26 months and five transfer windows, Dean Smith was backed with £324.61m worth of signings.

You can’t have it all ways.

Dean Smith only lasted three months of this season and after five straight defeats he was sacked by Aston Villa.

His comments above are laughable, damning Eddie Howe with faint praise. Saying Howe is an ‘unbelievable coach’ but then making clear that it was supposedly only the £90m (always easy to round things up to improve your feeble argument!) January spend that has made the difference at Newcastle United.

If spending £90m in the middle of a season, when the January window is always said to be so difficult to get good players and good value, should guarantee instant (relative) success….what should be expected when you are allowed to spend £324m+ in the space of only 26 months???

Eddie Howe now has Newcastle United 22 points above Dean Smith and Norwich, as well as six points above Smith’s former club Villa.

Getting backing in the transfer market obviously helps BUT it is ‘free transfer’ Eddie Howe who has been by far Newcastle United’s best signing of these past six months and beyond. It is he who has been the key to this remarkable transformation at St James Park.

Put it this way, if Dean Smith and not Eddie Howe had got the Newcastle United job in November and had then been backed with £90m in January, would NUFC be now be sitting in ninth and 43 points, having just won 10 of their last 14 Premier League matches?

Answers on a postcard for the attention of Dean Smith at Carrow Road.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Norwich 0 Newcastle 3 – Saturday 23 April 3pm

Goals:

Norwich:

Newcastle:

Joelinton 35, 41, Bruno G 49

(Half-time stats are in brackets)

Possession was Norwich 45% (44%) Newcastle 55% (56%)

Total shots were Norwich 5 (2) Newcastle 13 (6)

Shots on target were Norwich 2 (0) Newcastle 7 (2)

Corners were Norwich 2 (1) Newcastle 3 (2)

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Krafth, Lascelles, Burn, Targett, Longstaff, Guimaraes (Gayle 87), Willock, Joelinton (Almiron 67), Murphy (Ritchie 74), Saint-Maximin

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Schar, Shelvey, Manquillo, Fernandez, Wood

(Norwich 0 Newcastle 3 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Norwich 0 Newcastle 3 – Instant NUFC fan / writer reaction to Saturday’s victory – Read HERE)

(Alan Shearer absolutely loving it – Saluting Newcastle United Brazilian three goal salvo – Read HERE)

(Just look at that Premier League table after Norwich 0 Newcastle 3…Read HERE)

(Norwich 0 Newcastle 3 – Eddie Howe’s black and white army! Read HERE)

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