One year of Eddie Howe: That ‘fella from Bournemouth’ who’s working wonders at Newcastle United

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Eddie Howe reflects on his 12 months in charge of Newcastle United, a journey that has taken the club from 19th to third.

No words can do the job Eddie Howe has carried out at Newcastle United justice, but maybe some context gives you a good idea.

Twelve months ago today, Howe walked into a football club, albeit United by the takeover, at serious risk of relegation. Fast forward to now, and the Magpies are third in the Premier League - and being tipped by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola as title contenders. Madness.

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Newcastle were 19th and 11 games without a win when Howe stepped through the door at St James’ Park. So, what was the first thing he changed?

“It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot but I don’t think we necessarily changed anything because we didn’t know what was happening before we came in,” Howe said. “We had very clear ideas of what we wanted to do on my understanding of the best way to do the job. I’ve been a manager for while so I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do.

“I tried not to focus on what had gone on in the past here, I think that’s a very dangerous thing. You can be too reliant on certain things that have happened, or traditions and cultures that exist. Of course, we respected that but we wanted to come in with our own ideas and blueprint of how we wanted to play and how we wanted to work. We just set about implementing that.”

It’s worth remembering that Howe didn’t get the ‘new manager bounce’ that was perhaps hoped. In many ways, it got worse before it got better. Two January games, in particular, stand out for Howe, which he labelled his lowest moments.

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Eddie Howe’s lowest moments

He said: “I think Cambridge is the obvious one and I can still feel that today, the disappointment, the loneliness, that was a game we wanted to win and we wanted to build a winning culture from and we felt that was an ideal game to do that and do well in the cup and there was a real lowness after that.

“Also the Watford game, we were close to a win at a pivotal time and we didn’t get over the line and conceded late. Those two games were very close to each other and from those games afterwards, it felt a long way to go, a long way back for us. Thankfully the reaction to those disappointments was very strong.”

But a week after that Watford draw, Newcastle won at Leeds United via a Jonjo Shelvey free-kick and that was the result Howe pinpointed as the “turning point”. And it’s hard to argue otherwise as United won 12 of their remaining 18 games to surge to an 11th-place finish.

Improvement > money spent

And remarkably, that form has continued into the new season. Say it quietly but Newcastle currently sit in the Champions League spots after collecting 27 points for their opening 14 matches - winning seven, drawing six and losing just once - and are guaranteed to remain there during the World Cup break.

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Outsiders are quick to point to the £210million spent in January and in the summer on the likes of Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Sven Botman and Alexander Isak as the reason for Newcastle’s revival, and while there’s no doubting it’s helped, those in and around Newcastle know it’s more about player improvement.

Joelinton is the prime example, while Miguel Almiron is the latest success story. Fabian Schar and Sean Longstaff often go under the radar. These were players written off under the previous regime, yet Howe always believed in them.

“I had that belief internally that we’ve got some really good players,” Howe said. “My first impressions were genuine, a really willing group that wanted to be coached, that wanted help so I felt there was a really good starting point. Now the results weren’t matching that expectation initially and that leads an element of doubt.

“You need the result to validate what you feel and it was really from the Leeds game onwards that things started to turn in a positive direction.”

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Howe, in 12 months, has completely transformed Newcastle. It’s a club United again. What’s happening at present is unique and special - there’s no other way to describe it.

“I had a vision of the club being a huge football club,” Howe said. “Everything attached to the club for me spoke of a massive club in need of an injection of positivity and some good results.”

Well, ‘that fella from Bournemouth who got a team relegated’ is doing quite alright.

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