Eddie Howe fires back at Newcastle United transfer ‘criticism’ after £52m decision

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Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe faced questions on his midfield area.

Eddie Howe has fired back at suggestions that his Newcastle United team is missing an out-and-out holding midfielder.

Indications over the summer pointed at the Magpies signing a ‘No.6’ to allow Brazilian star Bruno Guimaraes to play in a more advanced role. However, that scenario hasn’t played out with Guimaraes remaining in the same position while £52million summer signing Sandro Tonali plays further forward.

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Following defeats to Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton & Hove Albion, a narrow 1-0 win over Brentford and a 0-0 draw against AC Milan, the balance of the midfield three has come under the microscope.

Bruno Guimaraes of Newcastle United challenges for the ball with Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic of AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between AC Milan and Newcastle United FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 19, 2023 in Milan, Italy. Bruno Guimaraes of Newcastle United challenges for the ball with Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic of AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between AC Milan and Newcastle United FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 19, 2023 in Milan, Italy.
Bruno Guimaraes of Newcastle United challenges for the ball with Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic of AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between AC Milan and Newcastle United FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 19, 2023 in Milan, Italy. | Getty Images

But Howe doesn’t believe not recruiting a holding midfielder is an issue.

Asked if he was lacking an out-and-out holding midfielder,” Howe replied: “Not in my opinion, no” before he added: “In my opinion, we’ve got three players who can play that position so didn’t want to add a fourth.”

The Magpies’ head coach admits the midfield, which is set to consist of Guimaraes, Tonali and Sean Longstaff for Sunday’s Premier League trip to Sheffield United, needs improving, but the same goes for other areas.

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Howe also cited the loss of Joelinton and Joe Willock to injury.

“I think the midfield, like all areas of the team, is an area for improvement,” Howe continued. “But I’d always say that, regardless of whether the team is performing I consider close to maximum. There’s a constant need to improve daily in my opinion. The midfield will be no different from the back four to the front areas.

“What I do know is we’ve got some top players in there. We’re missing the two Joes because they bring something different and give us the ability maybe at this stage to rotate more in that area. But you’ve seen with Elliot’s emergence in the last few weeks how well he’s done. He’s added another dynamic so I think our midfield is really strong.”

On Tonali, Howe called for patience as he adapts to life in a new league and country following his big-money switch from AC Milan.

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He said: “I want him to be himself, which is an outstanding technician, a very good athlete For me, he can play all of the positions in midfield. But we need to give him time.

“ I don’t think we can judge him, or any signings, within a month. Let’s take our time and be patient, because I know the quality of the player that we have.

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