Eddie Howe on raised expectations regarding Newcastle United…
Eddie Howe arrived at Newcastle United in the middle of a crisis.
It isn’t often that managers get appointed mid-season when a team is doing well.
However, the circumstances at St James’ Park were particularly serious.
Newcastle United at the bottom of the table with five points from the opening eleven Premier League matches and looking certainties for relegation. Having just been taken over by an ambitious moneyed consortium, this would be a particularly bad time to go down, considering just how far it would set back the plans to turn NUFC into a competitive football club once again.
Despite the immense pressure, Eddie Howe usually looked the calmest of all.
The NUFC head coach going on to become the only boss in the Premier League era who kept a club up, despite winning none of their first fourteen PL matches.
The fact that this was achieved whilst having the third best PL form of the 20 clubs in the final 19 matches, also didn’t see Eddie Howe particularly animated. Simply focused on getting the job done and then building for the future.
A fortnight ahead of the new season and Eddie Howe has been asked (see below) about the raised expectations that now surround Newcastle United.
Howe says that he and his players accepts this is a challenge, dealing with the raised expectations, but they aren’t ‘scared’ of that, they all know ‘it comes with the territory’ at St James’ Park.
In the past, we have seen plenty of credible players sign for Newcastle but then maybe intimidated by the challenge of playing for NUFC, particularly at home.
However, Eddie Howe and his players didn’t react that way, indeed the January signings especially loved it at ST James’ Park, so much so that they and their teammates won seven of the last eight PL home matches last season.
The expectations of the fans inspiring the likes of Dan Burn and Bruno, along with the rest of the players.
Can they now continue and build on that form, having themselves help raise the expectation of Newcastle fans and indeed, outsiders…?
Eddie Howe talking to The Mail, asked about raised expectations now regarding Newcastle United, ahead of the new season:
‘It’s a good question,’ he says, when presented with the subject of expectation. ‘It doesn’t intimidate me, but it is potentially a challenge for us – how we adapt to that pressure. We’re not scared of that, we know it comes with the territory. But I think expectations have gone up. I don’t intently follow what is being written and said, but I do get the feeling we’re being talked about in areas of the league where I think…’
Howe tilts his head and raises his eyebrows. ‘But there’s nothing you can do about that. I won’t sit here and challenge it. I will look back to last year and say that we went on an incredible run in a short space of time, but if you look at us statistically as a team, we underperformed in several key markers. To change that and become a stronger team, we have to perform better, that is what I’m looking at.’
The presence of players such as Brazil midfielder Bruno has done little to temper excitement, especially when he talks of the Champions League. He is not here for mid-table comfort.
‘You want that, you don’t want your players settling for positions in the table that I don’t want either. But there has to be an understanding of where we’ve come from, a team who has been fighting relegation for several years. I don’t think we’re the same squad as we were, we have added better players and are a stronger team. But there are no guarantees, we have to earn the right to be the team that people want us to be.’
Top seven and European qualification, then? ‘You’re not going to get a position from me! I just want to improve and get consistent results.’
Lethargy and working together
‘If you are lethargic and do not work together, you will get f… all,’ he had barked at one team during a possession drill. ‘We spoke about this in the team meeting this morning. Where are the leaders? You need to be united. Get together now and discuss what you’re going to do.’
Dan Burn promptly led a huddle and those reprimanded responded to win the session.
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