CRAIG HOPE: Eddie Howe’s promise of player improvement landed him the Newcastle job… but while fans and senior stars are enthused by his appointment, the pressure will be on from day one amid winless run
- What made Newcastle take notice of Eddie Howe was his vision for improvement
- Amanda Staveley and consortium quickly realised the scope for betterment
- Howe’s communication skills were a better fit than Spaniard Unai Emery’s
- There are many easy wins Howe can achieve in the short-term at St James’ Park
- But he has two months to provide answer if these players are capable of better
What made Newcastle sit up and take notice of Eddie Howe was his vision for improvement. Not by means of January spending or demands for investment elsewhere in the club, although he has clear ideas on those fronts, too.
But more so his insistence that those players already on the books would be enhanced for his management. It chimed with exactly what the new owners have been looking for since their arrival nearly five weeks ago.
Amanda Staveley and the Saudi-backed consortium quickly realised the scope for betterment inside the club, even though those on the outside said they were inheriting a sub-standard squad headed for the Championship.
What made Newcastle sit up and take notice of Eddie Howe was his vision for improvement
Amanda Staveley and the Saudi-backed consortium quickly realised the scope for betterment
The new owners disagreed, an opinion reinforced following conversations with several senior players. Staveley, the board and their advisors were confident that a more meticulous and dynamic approach to preparation would help a team with fractured belief.
What they needed was a coach, a manager who would invest his time and energy into individuals, setting new standards around the training ground.
They thought that man was Villarreal’s Unai Emery, until his U-turn last week. But Howe ran him close. Were it based on interview alone, the job would have been his already. Emery’s CV edged it, and there is no escaping the excitement that Staveley and Co felt at his anticipated appointment.
But there was always a doubt among some that Howe’s communication skills were a better fit than the Spaniard’s, be that in getting his message across to players or supporters.
They thought the man to improve things was Villarreal’s Unai Emery, until his U-turn last week
Matt Ritchie (right) and Callum Wilson (left) endorsed Howe’s appointment to club owners
Some of Howe’s former Bournemouth charges certainly got their message across to the owners when it came to a reference for their old boss. Given the influence of the likes of Matt Ritchie and Callum Wilson in the dressing-room, do not underestimate how much of a leg-up that is for the new head coach.
Fans, too, are enthused. It is wrong to say they wanted better than Eddie Howe. They didn’t, they just wanted better than Steve Bruce.
As True Faith, the popular Newcastle fanzine, noted: ‘Eddie Howe represents an exciting and progressive appointment. He’ll bring the work ethic required to stay in the Premier League and will galvanise an unhappy, frustrated squad.’
There are many easy wins that Howe can achieve in the short-term – fitness, motivation and organisation chief among them.
Yes, the squad needs adding to in January – it should have been strengthened in the summer – but it is better than level on points with Norwich at the bottom of the Premier League.
Magpies fans, too, are enthused by the appointment of the former Bournemouth manager
It is wrong to say they wanted better than Eddie Howe (R), they just wanted better than Steve Bruce (L)
That is Howe’s assessment, too, and he has nine games between now and the New Year to make an immediate impact. There are no honeymoon periods in the relegation zone.
He will begin training on Tuesday and plans to use every minute physically feasible to come good on his promise for improvement.
It is a question that has been asked repeatedly during Newcastle’s 11-match winless start – are these players really capable of better?
Howe has two months to provide the answer. It is a period that could shape not only the long-term future of his new club, but also his own. The pressure, then, will be on – from day one.
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