Eddie Howe meticulous approach will ensure no repeat of this Steve Bruce nightmare
Eddie Howe is having to deal with a tighter than ever close season.
It will be exactly 76 days between Newcastle United ending the 2022/23 season (1-1 away at Chelsea on Sunday 28 May 2023) and kicking off 2023/24 at home to Aston Villa on Saturday 12 August 2023.
This is exactly the same amount of days between seasons as a year earlier (won 2-1 at Burnley on 22 May 2022 and then won 2-0 against Forest on 6 August 2022) BUT this most recent season has been one like no other, with a World Cup finals bang in the middle. Making this summer all the more tighter when it comes to getting the team / squad in the best possible place for the new season.
We of course also have the big big factor peculiar to Newcastle United, which is that this will be the first Champions League campaign NUFC will be kicking off in 21 years.
Eddie Howe has of course clearly put plenty thought into this and the arrangements ahead of the new season.
The Newcastle United Head Coach welcomed the majority of the squad back at the weekend to begin pre-season preparations and gave us some guidance on his plans ahead of the 12 August kick-off.
In particular, when talking to NUFC TV this part stood out for me.
‘The international players aren’t here yet but is it a similar process for them, on individual plans wherever they might be in the world?’
‘Yes, they are working hard. Getting that mental refresh [as well], which is important with the amount of games we are going to have. Slightly different season with the competitions that we are in and a lot of travelling.
‘Time away now is crucial, so that they come back ready to work and ready for the tough test that the Premier League will bring.’
For me, I’m guessing that Eddie Howe particular has in mind those players such as Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Bruno, where once the season starts, it is very difficult for them to get back to South America and visit family and friends. Other internationals are also still away of course, such as Schar, Dubravka and Botman, however, at least if during the season they want to make a quick trip back to visit family etc, then unlike South America a couple of days can be a quick fix / refresh.
Joelinton and Bruno have been very active in posting on social media what they are up to in this rest and recovery period and I think the Eddie Howe approach will pay serious longer-term dividends, as the season progresses.
The fact is that it is only 21 days ago when Bruno and Joelinton were playing for Brazil against Senegal.
So no doubt there will be some Newcastle United fans running around panicking, saying it is only four days until the first friendly against Gateshead and then Rangers to follow three days later, that is so unimportant in the bigger picture.
Eddie Howe also said on Sunday that when testing the players on their physical condition on returning to the training ground, it is the best set of stats he has ever seen. The meticulous Eddie Howe saying that from becoming a manager, since the very start he has been recording this data for every set of players under his control, when returning from their summer break.
The thing is, this group of Newcastle United players have completely bought into the Eddie Howe way of doing things.
Work hard in preparation, play hard in games, then enjoy the fruits of your labour post-match.
Eddie Howe asks a lot of the players on the training ground but they willingly give it, they know how vital it is, especially with the way the Head Coach wants to play. The high tempo and high press game plan leaves no room for passengers.
The players have to reach a level of fitness before they can even be considered for regular first team action, as for example Anthony Gordon found out, when admitting nothing at Everton had prepared him for what was expected under Eddie Howe.
The players will know that if they haven’t been professional during their time away this summer, they will be behind other players on the fitness front and that will almost certainly see them back in the queue when it comes to the big Premier League kick-off.
Impressive planning and the Eddie Howe meticulous approach will ensure no repeat of this Steve Bruce nightmare.
Danny Rose was the first to make it public but many other NUFC players later followed, when on loan at Newcastle the Tottenham left-back said that he was astonished, as he had never been at a club before where the manager / head coach gave himself and the players so many days off, rather than working at the training ground.
This all came to a head when the 2021/22 season kicked off.
Before he was belatedly sacked, Steve Bruce oversaw a disastrous no wins in nine start to the season, including six defeats.
After his sacking, players then came forward to say that a major factor in this, had been the fact that the squad just weren’t fit enough when the season had kicked off. This was perfectly summed up in the opening game of that 2021/22 season, Newcastle leading 2-1 at home to West Ham, only for the final score to be 4-2 to the Hammers and NUFC not having a single effort on target in the second-half. I remember in that game, the longer it went on, the visiting players clearly in better condition.
Eddie Howe of course eventually came in, he admitted that before anything else, if Newcastle United were to stand any chance of avoiding relegation, he first had to get them properly fit.
The margins are that tight, this is an essential.
With Eddie Howe we are in very safe hands, he and his backroom staff have done a superb job and long may it continue.
This now appears to be the full seven game pre-season programme of matches:
Saturday 15 July 2023
Friendly – Gateshead v Newcastle (12.30pm) – Sold out
Tuesday 18 July 2023
Friendly – Rangers v Newcastle (7.45pm) Allan McGregor testimonial at Ibrox, NUFC allocated 8,000 tickets – Sold out.
Sunday 23 July 2023
Friendly – Newcastle v Aston Villa (7pm – Local time) Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Wednesday 26 July 2023
Friendly – Newcastle v Chelsea (8:15pm – Local time) Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Friday 28 July 2023
Friendly – Newcastle v Brighton (7:30pm – Local time) Red Bull Arena, New Jersey – Sold out
Saturday 5 August 2023
Friendly – Newcastle v Fiorentina (3:30pm) Part of the Sela Cup at St James’ Park
Sunday 6 August 2023
Friendly – Newcastle v Villarreal (4pm) Part of the Sela Cup at St James’ Park
Saturday 12 August 2023:
Premier League – Newcastle v Aston Villa (5.30pm) Sky Sports
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