Newcastle United appointed Eddie Howe as their head coach on November 8, 2021, after Unai Emery distanced himself from the job. Fans of Newcastle United are torn between thinking Howe is the club’s saviour or if he is simply a stop-gap until a higher profile name comes along. Is Howe the right man to steer Newcastle clear of relegation?
A Saudi Arabian consortium paid £300 million for Premier League team Newcastle United on October 7, which instantly transformed “The Magpies” into one of the richest, if not the richest, football clubs in the world. Fans took to the streets to celebrate the end of former owner Mike Ashley’s reigns and began dreaming of their beloved club signing elite players from far and wide.
The new owners did not take long to relieve Steve Bruce of his duties as head coach. Bruce managed to steer Newcastle to a 12th place finish in the Premier League last season but left the team winless through ten games this campaign and second from bottom in the league table. Newcastle has lost six of their opening 11 games and drawn five, leading to US sportsbooks instilling them as the second-favourites to be relegated this season.
Howe Was Newcastle’s Second Choice
Newcastle’s new owners wanted former Arsenal boss Unai Emery to take over from Bruce, but the current Villareal head coach publicly turned down the role before being offered it. This turned the owners’ attention to the former Bournemouth number one, Eddie Howe, a well-respected coach and manager, but one who Geordies are unsure if he is the right man for the monumental task at hand.
Howe is best known for his time as Bournemouth manager, who he guided from the third tier of English football and into the Premier League. He managed to establish Bournemouth as a Premier League outfit and kept them in the division for four seasons before being relegated to the Championship during the fifth. Howe achieved this despite a limited transfer budget and a strict wage structure, something he will not have to worry about at cash-rich Newcastle.
Howe took charge of 458 league games in two spells as Bournemouth’s supremo, winning 194, drawing 95, and losing 169. However, that only tells part of the story because those figures include battling against the odds and punching above their weight in the Premier League.
There is no doubting Howe’s managerial ability. He is held in high regard by Bournemouth’s fans and has been touted as a potential future manager of the English national team. Howe has a reputation for nurturing young talent, bringing them through into the first team, and selling them on at a substantial profit. This is all well and good, but such skills are not what Newcastle United need right now.
Howe’s teams tend to play football the right way. Free-flowing, passing, attacking football that fans love to watch. On the flip side, teams under Howe’s stewardship tend to have poor defences that concede goals as quick as they score them at the other end. Newcastle has conceded 24 goals in its opening 11 Premier League games this season; only rock bottom Norwich City has shipped more.
Then there are Howe’s questionable moves in the transfer market. Howe sanctioned a £19 million signing of Dominic Solanke, who only scored three goals in 42 Premier League appearances. He also paid £13 million for Lloyd Kelly, £13.7 million for flop Arnaut Danjuma, and £12 million for injury-plagued Chris Mepham. Is Howe the man you would hand a blank checkbook to? Probably not.
The biggest issue Newcastle have with Howe in charge is whether or not he is a big enough name to attract the players the team needs to ensure survival in the Premier League. Top players often talk about signing for a club so that they can play under a particular manager. That is almost 100% not going to be the case with Howe, who has national but not continental status.
On paper, Howe has the credentials to be a top tier football manager in the Premier League. There is no doubting he will have Newcastle United playing a more attractive style of football that should endear him to the club’s loyal supporters. However, his defensive record is appalling, and he has chequered success in the transfer market, so there are question marks over his head. Newcastle fans will hope he removes any doubts about his appointment in the first few games Howe is in charge.