Joe Willock opens up on his Newcastle United struggles after leaving boyhood club Arsenal
It took Joe Willock six months or so to settle at Newcastle United following his summer move from boyhood club Arsenal.
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Joe Willock has admitted he struggled to settle at Newcastle United following his £20million summer move from Arsenal.
The Magpies moved to secure the services of Willock on a permanent basis following last season’s extraordinary loan spell of eight goals in 14 games
However, when the 22-year-old returned to St James’ Park, he failed to hit anywhere near similar heights with zero goals or assists.
That was until Eddie Howe succeeded Steve Bruce as head coach. And since the turn of the year, Willock has rediscovered his form.
‘I didn’t have the start I wanted’
“I didn’t have the start that I wanted but it has turned around and now I’m getting back to what I know I can do,” Willock admitted to NUFCTV.
“That’s football, sometimes it doesn’t go how you want it to and I’m happy that I had a brilliant manager that came in and stuck by me and gave me so much advice and brilliant players around me to help me to get me to the levels I can.
“When I’m happy and when I’m playing happy, I know I can be one of the best in my position. That’s something I need to continue doing and continue working hard.”
One of Howe’s biggest attributes since arriving in November has been his ability to improve players on an individual basis, and Willock is no different to that.
In fact, Howe was believed to have paid more attention to Willock than any other player when was first appointed.
‘Howe is very humble man’
Willock explained: “With me, he (Howe) took the route of putting his arm around me and speaking to me.
“He was hard on me when he needed to be and talking to me when he needed to, which is something that has benefited me so much.
“Everyone knows, he’s really tactical and he’s helped me on the pitch loads which has also helped as well. It’s a mixture of everything, all the players, not just me, can go and speak to him.
“He’s a very humble man and that’s something that we all appreciate and we all have confidence in him. That’s helped me and everyone else as well.”
It was through Howe, his teammates, his family and the love of his new dog Teddy that has finally got Willock settled in the North East.
‘I wasn’t settled at the start’
Willock revealed: “If I’m really honest, I wasn’t settled in at the start and I didn’t feel like it was as easy as it would have been.
“Coming on loan was a bit easier because I knew I was going back to London and going to see my family but coming here permanently and signing a long-term contract was a totally different mindset and hard to adapt to.
“But, as I said, having a brilliant group and a brilliant staff to help me settle in, brilliant people around, brilliant fans, it’s all helped me to get to the place where I need to be mentally to settle in and I’m glad I can show that on the pitch.
“My father lives with me,” Willock added. “I don’t have my friends around me too much so to have a best friend in a dog is brilliant for me as well.
“It’s a mixture of stuff that’s helped me settle mentally and made me feel at home. It’s my first dog, I love him, his name is Teddy and he’s my best friend.”
As a boyhood Arsenal fan, Willock will relish Newcastle’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
“Newcastle United is the team that has my heart,” Willock said. “We have a massive objective to do this season, we have points we need to get before we can say we’re safe.
“We need to go into this game with the mindset that we need to win, get the three points and continue pushing up the table.”