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Opinion

You shouldn’t believe everything that Eddie Howe says (in the nicest possible way…)

8 months ago
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On Thursday, it will be exactly 20 months since Eddie Howe took charge of his first Newcastle United match.

It has been quite a journey since.

A club transformed off the pitch, a team transformed on it.

In those 20 months, Eddie Howe turning an unfit totally demoralised relegation guaranteed Steve Bruce squad, into one that finished top four in the Premier League and now looking forward to a Champions League campaign.

Of course, competing in the Champions League brings extra demands, which everybody inside St James’ Park understands, as well as those of outside the corridors of power.

Last Sunday, Eddie Howe did his first pre-season interview, talking to official club media about the preparations and the season to come.

However, on Saturday, it was the first chance pre-season for Eddie Howe to be quizzed by the members of the NUFC media, following the friendly victory over Gateshead.

Eddie Howe speaking about the transfer window – 15 July 2023:

“The depth of squad is huge for us this season, the competitions that we are in and having three games a week, we need to be able to rotate the team.

“To be able to then bring in players who are of equal standard.

‘That is what we are looking to do but we know that we have a lot of work to do that. 

“Players are expensive these days and we are working within FFP guidelines which are very difficult for us.

“We might need to be creative… we have a very strict budget.

“With FFP there are certain things you can be creative on but we don’t have a huge budget to work with.

“At times there have been frustrations and difficult days [but] we know the challenges that we face.

“Through this summer I have been through all the emotions.

“I am very pleased to get Sandro [Tonali] in but we know that we need more.

“We are working hard to do that all summer, I am patient and understand the parameters that we are working in, but I also know the needs that we have.

“For me, it isn’t a case of we want to do it, we need to do it.

“Nothing is close, we are working on that and we need new additions.

“So there will come a time when we have to move things forward quicker.”

What Eddie Howe had to say yesterday was interesting… BUT what the journalists have had to say about the Head Coach’s comments… has been far more ‘interesting’, to say the least.

As is often the case, the journalists are all saying the same thing. Very rare for any of them to break ranks and say anything different.

Their take on the Eddie Howe comments is universally negative, to a massive degree. All doom and gloom in terms of how they are taking Howe’s comments totally literally, with me getting the feeling that in reality, many of them are seemingly almost desperate for this to be seen as some kind of internal split at the club. Eddie Howe not getting the support he expected / expects from the Newcastle United owners.

I find it quite bizarre really, mainly because this reaction of the media to Howe’s comments, totally ignores anything that has gone before.

One of the other regular contributors on The Mag regularly refers to Eddie Howe as NGE – Nice Guy Eddie.

I totally agree with that, Eddie is a nice guy, but our Head Coach is also not averse to telling the odd porkie, not telling the whole truth, BUT all for the best possible reasons.

Just look at all those pre-match press conferences, Eddie Howe sitting there and with a straight face telling these very same NUFC journalists who is / isn’t injured, then when the team is announced the next day, yet again he has ‘massaged the truth’, feeding misleading info to the NUFC media so that the opposition are wrongfooted as to who is and isn’t available.

Likewise, in the previous Eddie Howe transfer windows, we have seen a similar pattern. What the Head Coach tells the media and what ends up getting revealed as the reality, are time and again very different.

The media haven’t had a clue in advance about pretty much any major NUFC signing since the new owners and Eddie Howe came in, the same as they never have a clue on exactly which players are available / unavailable ahead of every match.

Why would this window be any different?

If Newcastle United are indeed now at a very advanced stage to make one or more first team squad signings, does anybody really think for one second that Eddie Howe would be telling the journalists about it yesterday???

Poker face NGE has the media in his pocket.

Yes, he was laying it on thick on Saturday about wanting / needing more players in but which manager ever says they are totally satisfied at any moment in time? Yes, Newcastle United don’t have a limitless budget this summer, whether due to FFP or the owners or a combination of the two, but that goes for pretty much every other club, with only an odd exception.

I actually don’t think the FFP restrictions are anywhere near as bad as Eddie Howe regularly trots out, but again, what purpose would it serve if Howe was instead saying NUFC had massive funds available and FFP not actually that big a problem???

In these recent transfer windows, Newcastle United have earned a stellar reputation for getting great deals and not being taken for mugs, which was (taken for mugs) what all the ‘experts’ were predicting would happen back in January 2022.

Dan Burn, Matt Targett and Bruno arrived very late in the January 2022 window when Newcastle were desperately fighting relegation, club record signing Alexander Isak arrived very late in the summer 2022 window, as did Anthony Gordon in January 2023.

I have no doubt Eddie Howe would have preferred at least one or two more in by now but better to get the right players at the right kind of price, rather than making the wrong decisions for all the wrong reasons.

Eddie Howe himself has also repeatedly said that Anthony Gordon is in reality a summer 2023 signing but part of the budget was used early because he became available. So in essence, this is a window where already £100m+ has been committed on Gordon, Minteh and Tonali.

Eddie Howe says about having three games a week in the coming season BUT the first five weeks of the season has only four games for NUFC to play and each having a full week in between them.

It is only after the September international fortnight that we get into a packed schedule and that is weeks after the transfer window has finally closed.

I confidently predict that when this summer transfer window closes, Eddie Howe will be all smiles and happy with the business done and the squad he has available, whilst the NUFC media will be reflecting on having been duped yet again by a very smart operator.

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