From organised chaos to a United front - The Newcastle positives from Eddie Howe’s first game

There were plenty of positives to take from Newcastle United’s first game under Eddie Howe

The dust has settled after Newcastle United’s draw with Brentford.

Perhaps fans who left St James’ Park slightly disappointed – although the majority seemed encouraged – will have awoken on Monday with a brighter outlook, despite the wait for a first victory continuing.

Outside of the North East, it wasn’t a great Saturday night for the Magpies. The club fell to the bottom of the table as early relegation rivals Norwich City, Watford and Aston Villa all won.

By half-time at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – 24 hours later – things significantly worsened as Leeds United led 1-0, which had Newcastle seven points adrift.

But Antonio Conte’s men turned it around. The gap remains at five and Magpies supporters can reflect on a largely pleasing performance in the first game since Eddie Howe’s appointment.

Here, we pick out the positives from the six-goal-thriller with the Bees:

Greater possession stats 

Under Steve Bruce, having less possession than the opponents became the norm. It, at times, was very demoralising and quite often reflected United’s struggles on the pitch.

Newcastle’s 52.1% against Brentford is a clear indication itself of Howe’s change in approach. The team will no longer be one that sits off, but one that takes the game to the opposition.

Newcastle last broke the 50%-plus possession barrier in the 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa, averaging 37.4% from then before the Bees’ visit to Tyneside.

It’s impressive that Howe turned a passive side into one that wanted to be brave on the ball within the space of 10 days.

From chaos to organised chaos

Newcastle still conceded three goals – their 25th, 26th and 27th of the campaign to maintain their shipping average of 2.3 per game.

It was chaos, but at least it was organised. United were better in every department and really, on reflection, were left to rue individual errors and a bit of hard luck.

Karl Darlow’s howler came at the worst possible time – less than a minute after Jamaal Lascelles headed home the opener.

Matt Ritchie allowed Sergi Canos to swing in a delivery. Jacob Murphy was in no man’s land as Rico Henry slid home freely at the back post.

There were question marks over Murphy’s role in Brentford’s third. Frank Onyeka with the shot, which took a fortuitous deflection off Lascelles.

Cut out those and Newcastle win the game. Sort the issue moving forward and Newcastle should stay in the division.

In attack, there can be little complaints, apart from the obvious – finishing more of their chances. Newcastle registered more than 20 shots at goal – nine on target – and for a while, that has been unheard of.

Howe’s 3-4-3 formation got United on the front foot. Ritchie and Murphy, for their faults in defence, worked tirelessly and pressed high up the pitch.

Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin gave Newcastle an exciting dynamic. Jonjo Shelvey was a key component in the midfield.

Key players return to form

Howe singled out Shelvey for praise in the build-up – and the England midfielder made his words run true.

For all his critics, Shelvey’s technical ability has never been questioned. A key role in Howe’s starting XI is already very apparent.

Joelinton, as written earlier by NewcastleWorld, looked like a man transformed and was one kick away from leaving the field as man of the match.

As for Saint-Maximin, the Frenchman was back to his creative best after being asked to play a disciplined role during Graeme Jones’ interim spell.

All looked far better for Howe’s arrival. The challenge and hope is they maintain those impressive levels.

United football club showed fight and desire

Wor Flags kicked it all off with Gallowgate banners saying ‘Eddie Howe’s Black and White Army’ and ‘This is our house, this is Newcastle’.

Indeed, it was the first game where it actually felt like a new era. New owners. And finally, a new manager, albeit his enforced absence.

Had he been present inside St James’s Park, he would have felt a cauldron of noise, with supporters chanting his name and cheering their team to the end.

There was a United front all round as the players on the pitch showed the fight and desire to twice come from behind against the Bees.

It was no coincidence that Howe’s coaching staff and players formed a mini lap of honour at full-time as he aims to instil togetherness from all areas of the football club.

Still early days 

All that, and we’re still only two weeks into Howe’s reign.

It’s clear Newcastle have made big strides since the 43-year-old’s arrival. The only thing missing was an opening three points.

The Brentford showing provided plenty of positives and improvements that you bet a meticulous Howe and his coaching staff will take onto the training pitch.