Newcastle United have just watched their 'dream' summer signing as release clause emerges

Eberechi Eze battles with Anthony Gordon. Credit: GettyEberechi Eze battles with Anthony Gordon. Credit: Getty
Eberechi Eze battles with Anthony Gordon. Credit: Getty | Getty Images
Newcastle United watched the Crystal Palace star shine against them.

Eddie Howe was praised to the hilt for his tactical masterclass that enabled Newcastle United to wipe the floor with Tottenham Hotspur, but lightening certainly didn’t strike twice at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night.

Ten days on from hammering Champions League-chasing Spurs, Howe kept faith with the same players and the same 3-4-3 formation. The outcome? A total contrast, leaving a lot to be desired as Jean Philippe-Matata brace saw Crystal Palace breeze to a 2-0 win.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Any regrets? “No, I don’t think so,” replied Howe. “After the win against Tottenham we were prepared to go the same way. I thought tactically the game would suit us that way. I have no issue doing so but our execution has to be better than that. Our execution against Tottenham was of the highest level, tonight it wasn’t.

“[I was] trying to find a way to help the team in any way we can so yes we made substitutions and tactical tweaks but as always when you talk tactically it is about the attitude of the group first and foremost. If you’re not quite wherever you need to be mentally then it doesn’t matter what you do tactically, you’re going to fall down and I thought that was where we were today.”

Rather than take the blame himself, which he has done for most of the bad results during his two-and-a-half-years as head coach, it was a rare moment where Howe put the onus very much on his players.

And one of Newcastle’s biggest vulnerabilities was the wing-back areas. On the right was Jacob Murphy and left was Elliot Anderson, that was despite two ready-made options in Tino Livramento - who Howe later revealed is carrying an ankle injury - and Lewis Hall on the bench.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It might seem fickle to suggest Howe should change a winning team but new opposition brings new threats, and the biggest of the lot Eberechi Eze ran riot, doing everything but score a goal.

Eze tortured Howe’s men all game, causing havoc down their unbalanced right-hand side. Murphy and Emil Krafth were tied in knots, and both Bruno Guimaraes and Sean Longstaff struggled to track the 25-year-old.

Eberechi Eze battles with Anthony Gordon. Credit: GettyEberechi Eze battles with Anthony Gordon. Credit: Getty
Eberechi Eze battles with Anthony Gordon. Credit: Getty | Getty Images

On a night when United’s attacking frustrations were stark - taking until the 87th minute to register their first shot on target - Eze was the star of the show, increasing his own prospects of making England’s Euro 2024 squad this summer.

Newcastle have been tentatively linked with Eze in the past and a move to prize him away from South London wouldn’t come cheap but if there were ever an opportunity, signing the attacking midfielder would be a dream.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The formation, whether that be down to the manager or poor execution from his players, or indeed the brilliance Eze, it was a night to forget in the capital.

The race for European qualification enters the remaining five games and the good news is, it is still in Newcastle’s hands. Sheffield United are next up at St James’ Park on Saturday, and it will be interesting to see if Howe goes again with 3-4-3, or returns to a more familiar 4-3-3.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.