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Opinion

Eddie Howe – Quite astonishing what he has done

3 weeks ago
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Eddie Howe arrived at Newcastle United on 8 November 2021.

Eleven Premier League matches had been played, no NUFC wins and only five points from those first 11 matches, Newcastle looking relegation certainties.

When pretty much any manager is appointed mid-season at any club there is a ‘new manager bounce’ impact, results improving as players look to impress the new boss and various other reasons give as to why this is usually the case.

The Eddie Howe ‘bounce’ saw one win from his opening nine PL games, only seven more points added to the total. With only one win and 12 points accumulated in the opening 20 Premier League matches, relegation now surely way beyond certain.

Then something quite remarkable happened…

On 17 April 2022, Newcastle United effectively reached safety. The seventh last game of the season was a dramatic 2-1 win over Leicester and Eddie Howe taking NUFC to 37 points, the final PL table then eventually showing Burnley third bottom with 35 points.

Third best form in Premier League in second half of the season, 38 points from last 19 games, only Liverpool and Man City picking up more.

Lost one Premier League home match after 19 December 2021.

Final 20 Premier League games of the season, take out Man City and Spurs away, team only conceded 11 goals in other 18 PL matches.

Won seven of final eight PL games of the season.

In his 27 NUFC Premier League games last season, Eddie Howe only lost two matches to teams who finished outside the top six (An away defeat at Leicester where everything that could go wrong, did. Plus, a match NUFC should definitely have won but lost at Everton, the only goal coming from the home side’s first serious goal threat deep into injury time).

Newcastle United lost 21 Premier League games in 2021, including nine at home.

Newcastle United have lost only five Premier League games so far in 2022, including just the one at home.

Conclusion

By the end of the season, Eddie Howe had led Newcastle to victories against every single club outside the top seven, with the exception of Watford, NUFC leading in that match but poor defending from Lascelles and Almiron allowing a last minute equaliser.

There had been no new manager ‘bounce’ when Eddie Howe came in, as he inherited a squad of players who weren’t even fit enough, as many players have since confirmed. That was then compounded by a series of individual errors that undermined what was gradually improving team performances.

There was barely a player who didn’t improve to a significant degree, never mind the overall impact Eddie Howe had on the team and squad. Joelinton the most striking, looking totally lost under Steve Bruce and indeed regularly left out of the team, Eddie Howe has now turned the Brazilian into an excellent midfielder who is one of the first names on the team sheet for most fans.

His eye for a player has also been excellent, with the likes of Burn, Bruno G, Targett and Trippier all significantly improving those positions in the team. Whilst the head coach also took the brave step of paying the vastly inflated trigger release price for Chris Wood, Newcastle needing a PL striker after Wilson’s injury and Wood helping to deliver 29 points in his 15 PL starts as Eddie Howe formulated a game plan based on Wood defending from the front in a very unselfish role.

Eddie Howe confounded his critics and the Newcastle haters on every level, his appointment mocked because he supposedly was clueless in terms of coming up with a much improved defensive set-up, completely transforming the NUFC defence with just a £28m transfer fee spend on three players (Trippier £12m, Burn £13m, Targett £3m loan).

Amazingly, after all the above, Eddie Howe finds himself doubted by a vocal number of Newcastle fans.

This despite having landed a permanent deal for Targett and signing England keeper Nick Pope for a combined £22m, plus convincing the very exciting young defender Sven Botman to come to Newcastle instead of Serie A winners and Champions League competing AC Milan.

The team and squad have been transformed, with existing players much improved, very intelligent signings, stunning second half of the season form and the exact opposite of what you so often get with a very short-term meaningless new manager bounce…that swiftly leads to back to the usual poor form.

Quite amazing the press coverage.

So much written about what supposedly great appointments the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard had been, yet Eddie Howe absolutely trouncing them in terms of the respective jobs they did after mid-season appointments.

Newcastle United have so much going for them now and one of the biggest factors by far is the presence of Eddie Howe.

Still only 44, Eddie Howe already has on his CV, the achievement of saving Bournemouth from a drop into non-league football, before then taking them through all the divisions right through to the Premier League. He’d managed this before even reaching the ago of 40.

His best years are still ahead of him and Eddie Howe will further enhance his CV and reputation this coming season, by exactly what degree remains to be seen, but I have every faith in him and can’t wait for this new season to kick off.

An extra further signing or two will of course be a big bonus but even with the squad as it currently stands, which is stronger than the one that had the third best PL form in the second half of the season, I see Eddie Howe doing great things with it.

He has earned our respect and his dedication to the job is so refreshing, after having endured his joke of a predecessor for 27 months.

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