Howe sees best and worst of Newcastle but ‘draws not enough’

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December 2, 2021
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    Ciaran Clark was sent off after nine minutesNewcastle's Ciaran Clark was sent off after nine minutes

    It has only been three weeks since Eddie Howe was appointed but he must have already pondered the unique nature of Newcastle United Football Club.

    He only became the new head coach after the club botched their pursuit of Villarreal boss Unai Emery.

    Then, the night before the former Bournemouth manager was expected to take charge of his first home game, he was struck down with Covid-19.

    And when he finally got to manage his team at St James' Park, against Norwich, his new side were down to 10 men within nine minutes.

    "Make each day your masterpiece" is a key phrase used in Howe's coaching philosophy, and it was emblazoned across a banner at the Gallowgate End prior to kick-off. Ciaran Clark then scribbled all over it like a toddler.

    Strangely, though, it galvanised a team which has the worst defence in the Premier League and almost earned what could have proved a transformative win after Callum Wilson's second-half penalty.

    But as Newcastle's fans will tell you, drama never strays far from St James' Park. As a first win of the season came into view, the otherwise impressive home keeper Martin Dubravka pawed away a late cross, leading to Teemu Pukki's 79th-minute equaliser.

    In normal circumstances a point after having a man sent off so early would represent a good result, yet these are far from normal times on Tyneside.

    After a £305m Saudi Arabian-backed takeover seven weeks ago, which led to fans calling themselves the richest club in the world, Newcastle remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table with relegation looking more likely the longer the season goes on.

    "The challenge ahead is huge," said Howe afterwards. "We're under no illusions as to the size of the task we face. We need to get the wins we need – draws aren't going to be enough."

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    Howe keeps cool amid the twists and turns

    Once again, this was a game which showed Howe the best and worst side of Newcastle.

    Roared on by 50,000 fans on a wet but mild night at St James' Park, the team pressed and battled against Dean Smith's Norwich, who sit three points and now two places above them.

    Without suspended skipper Jamaal Lascelles, stand-in captain Wilson led from the front as the team pressurised their opponents to the point where an unexpected victory looked likely.

    They certainly appeared fitter, with three weeks of training under Howe already looking to have added a new dimension.

    Two minutes before Wilson's 61st-minute penalty, Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin and Federico Fernandez, who replaced Clark, were quick to close down the Norwich defence near their own corner flag. Howe approved.

    "You need the spirit in the group to deliver what we need, and I feel it has grown," he said. "That's going to be key for us."

    Callum Wilson celebrates scoring for NewcastleCallum Wilson's penalty was a rare moment of joy for Newcastle fans in an otherwise difficult season so far

    Flanked by his assistant Jason Tindall, Howe never sat down in the dugout during the game as he cajoled his players.

    He praised Joe Willock and Jonjo Shelvey, who dovetailed successfully in midfield, and he described Fernandez, who has been left out of the team this season, as "absolutely magnificent" and "an ultimate professional since I arrived at the club".

    His stay in the team may be prolonged by Clark's suspension. There were no words between Howe and the centre-back as he trudged off following his pull-back on Pukki with the Norwich striker bearing down on goal.

    But Howe soon refocused and the tactical tweaks to manage the game at 1-1 told of a head coach who is constantly thinking about the next move.

    Transfer window ramifications if poor form continues

    The problem for Newcastle is that in a week in which they will also face fellow bottom three side Burnley, a point does not make significant inroads into the gap between them and their rivals and repeated failures to win will have wider consequences.

    Leeds' injury-time victory over Crystal Palace does not help either, with Marcelo Bielsa's side moving further away from the relegation zone, having started the day in 17th place.

    Newcastle's match against Burnley on Saturday is followed by a daunting run of fixtures in December, with games against Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United all to come.

    Howe said prior to the game that his side's league position would be more of a barrier to bringing players in during the January transfer window than any reservations about living in the north east of England.

    He said: "It's very difficult to make any promises of saying we will definitely spend money and sign players but I can promise the owners will support me and the team in trying to achieve what we need."

    If that sounded cautious for a team which is now 80% owned by Saudi investors worth hundreds of billions of pounds, it also echoes noises coming out of the club that there will not be a transfer splurge.

    There is no set budget, "transfer kitty" or "war-chest". Instead, the club will focus on what they need, and whether they can improve on the players they have, but most importantly whether those players are available.

    Then there is the small matter of convincing them to join a team which could be destined for relegation. As Howe said on Monday: "January is an incredibly difficult time to recruit, especially when your league position is difficult."

    Whatever improvements Howe can make on the training pitch, it is individual errors which have cost them wins against Brentford and Norwich in consecutive home games.

    Improving the backline would appear a priority, with more protection in front of the back four coming a close second.

    Howe praised his team's defensive resilience, and it was certainly appreciated by fans as their manager walked around the pitch to thank them after the final whistle.

    Despite the effort from the players, the "really special atmosphere" from the crowd and the attacking talent he can call upon, he added: "It's in our own hands but every game we don't win, it becomes harder."

    Seven games into the new ownership, relegation still looms large.

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    429 commentsShowLatestOldestHighest RatedMost Replied

    • V

      Comment posted by VoiceofReason, at 09:52 1 Dec

      As a Newcastle Fan I am not getting over stressed by the relegation threat. It might put us back a year or so but we have 100 times more chance of long term success now than we did under Ashley.15325

      • D

        Reply posted by Doug, at 10:15 1 Dec

        "As a Newcastle Fan I am not getting over stressed by the relegation threat. It might put us back a year or so but we have 100 times more chance of long term success now than we did under Ashley."Doug replied: Very sensible. A football club is for life, not one season. Got a real soft spot for the North East – I hope to see a strong Newcastle, Boro and Sunderland back again (I’m guessing you might not share my take on the latter two!). All cracking awaydays.1078

      More replies (14)

    • M

      Comment posted by My Two Cents, at 09:52 1 Dec

      ‘Fans calling themselves the richest club in the world’ ?

      Total nonsense – the media have been calling us the richest club in the world. PIF also invest in numerous other sporting endeavours and none have been given a blank chequebook. At no stage have the new owners promised huge amounts of money and no fans I know expect it.

      The reporting of the takeover has become a circus but not our making13117

      • I

        Reply posted by Ian, at 10:12 1 Dec

        "‘Fans calling themselves the richest club in the world’ ?Total nonsense – the media have been calling us the richest club in the world. PIF also invest in numerous other sporting endeavours and none have been given a blank chequebook. At no stage have the new owners promised huge amounts of money and no fans I know expect it. The reporting of the takeover has become a circus but not our making"Ian replied: I was about to post much the same. The media have created this “circus” and seem to allow inflammatory comments about “us”. Comments that certainly be removed as they are inaccurate, inappropriate and offensive.

        All the fans want is a team and management that try to achieve more than finishing 17th every year.6810

      More replies (17)

    • B

      Comment posted by B and S, at 10:00 1 Dec

      Ashley,s net spend on players over 14 years = £130M if you listen to Shearer or £170M Max from Kevin Maguire.
      Newcastle spent least amount of any club in last 10 years on their stadium or training ground etc.
      That’s why NU are in their current predicament not due to Amanda Staveley or Eddie Howe .9110

      • U

        Reply posted by U17881151, at 11:24 1 Dec

        "Ashley,s net spend on players over 14 years = £130M if you listen to Shearer or £170M Max from Kevin Maguire.Newcastle spent least amount of any club in last 10 years on their stadium or training ground etc.That’s why NU are in their current predicament not due to Amanda Staveley or Eddie Howe ."U17881151 replied: He’s done the same with his retail businesses.

        No investment. Allowed properties to deteriorate.

        Strange behaviour.434

      More replies (8)

    • B

      Comment posted by bradloid, at 10:32 1 Dec

      “which led to fans calling themselves the richest club in the world”
      Was it really the fans that said this? Shocking comment from this writer.659

      • G

        Reply posted by Glozboy, at 10:42 1 Dec

        "”which led to fans calling themselves the richest club in the world”Was it really the fans that said this? Shocking comment from this writer."Glozboy replied: Those idiots who turned up wearing towels on their heads would probably say it, but the majority are more realistic I would imagine.615

      More replies (3)

    • M

      Comment posted by Musket Ball, at 11:12 1 Dec

      The best line ever in a sports article…

      “Ciaran Clark then scribbled all over it like a toddler.”550

      • M

        Reply posted by Mr9stein, today at 00:18

        "The best line ever in a sports article…“Ciaran Clark then scribbled all over it like a toddler.”"Mr9stein replied: Lol. Just said the same. Just summarised the report to wifey and read that line out! Brilliant
        Toon will get there in the end. The soul is coming back to Tyneside. I grew up there ha Gateshead (Low Fell), Gosforth and Morpeth. Love the place. Love coming home and driving around Northumberland thr Ponteland, Consett and a quick eye check up at Barnard Castle where I went to school. God’s country!00

    • C

      Comment posted by cb, at 10:26 1 Dec

      Difficult job, but Howe has an attack, just got to find defenders… Presume there’s defenders at other prem clubs not getting game time who would fancy a loan spell, not like they can’t pay the wages… Fix that, they have a chance… Good luck to the Toon!565

      • S

        Reply posted by susie, at 17:35 1 Dec

        "Difficult job, but Howe has an attack, just got to find defenders… Presume there’s defenders at other prem clubs not getting game time who would fancy a loan spell, not like they can’t pay the wages… Fix that, they have a chance… Good luck to the Toon!"susie replied: Take Dier. Please take Dier.22

      More replies (1)

    • T

      Comment posted by Teleport, at 10:30 1 Dec

      Welcome to Newcastle. We’ve had 15 years of tripe. So as long as you have the lads fighting for each game. Nothing else matters567

      • H

        Reply posted by Holmes, at 11:48 1 Dec

        "Welcome to Newcastle. We’ve had 15 years of tripe. So as long as you have the lads fighting for each game. Nothing else matters"Holmes replied: Only 15 years…..???224

      More replies (3)

    • I

      Comment posted by Ian D, at 10:21 1 Dec

      Newcastle are dead certs for relegation and would have been irrespective of who they appointed manager. I do feel Eddie Howe is way over-hyped but only time will tell. It won’t be the end of the world if they are relegated. It will give them an opportunity to get rid of the dead wood and sell ‘we will get promotion’ to good players. Perhaps not world-class, but good enough to get them back up.436

      • D

        Reply posted by Dr Sausage, at 10:47 1 Dec

        "Newcastle are dead certs for relegation and would have been irrespective of who they appointed manager. I do feel Eddie Howe is way over-hyped but only time will tell. It won’t be the end of the world if they are relegated. It will give them an opportunity to get rid of the dead wood and sell ‘we will get promotion’ to good players. Perhaps not world-class, but good enough to get them back up."Dr Sausage replied: No guarantee that they come straight back up…look at Sheffield Utd…249

      More replies (6)

    • D

      Comment posted by DaveW40, at 10:51 1 Dec

      I think its too late already. Accept relegation is a foregone conclusion and don’t waste millions on chancers and has beens in January. A gradual re-build from the Championship might not be a bad thing.374

      • U

        Reply posted by Uncle Ronnies Legs are Trombones, at 11:02 1 Dec

        "I think its too late already. Accept relegation is a foregone conclusion and don’t waste millions on chancers and has beens in January. A gradual re-build from the Championship might not be a bad thing."Uncle Ronnies Legs are Trombones replied: They will spend a fortune in January because the owners will not see relegation as an option. They have £350bn in the kitty so a gradual rebuild will not be necessary when you can have whatever you want.
        A new Manager, a lot of deadwood currently on the payroll and not being able to spend any of that money just yet is a mere inconvenience to a club with unimaginable wealth like they now have.624

      More replies (16)

    • D

      Comment posted by David, at 10:30 1 Dec

      As to relegation it depends on how many points they get pre January. Looking at the fixture list you wouldn’t think they will get many points. If Newcastle have say 10pts on January 1st with just 18 games to go they will be in trouble as an average of 1.5 pts per game which they would probably need to stay up would be top 6 form260

      • G

        Reply posted by g p t, at 13:35 1 Dec

        "As to relegation it depends on how many points they get pre January. Looking at the fixture list you wouldn’t think they will get many points. If Newcastle have say 10pts on January 1st with just 18 games to go they will be in trouble as an average of 1.5 pts per game which they would probably need to stay up would be top 6 form"g p t replied: YAWN325

    • J

      Comment posted by Julio Laker, at 11:25 1 Dec

      I genuinely believe if we pay like that at home for the rest of the season (and not have Clark) then we’ll just about scrape home whether we get new recruits or not.

      Those not watching the team week in week out won’t have seen the transformation but it’s like chalk and cheese.

      Shelvey was quality, Joelinton played like Kante, Fernandes looked like a first class defender, Manquillo was excellent305

      • A

        Reply posted by AA, at 11:31 1 Dec

        "I genuinely believe if we pay like that at home for the rest of the season (and not have Clark) then we’ll just about scrape home whether we get new recruits or not. Those not watching the team week in week out won’t have seen the transformation but it’s like chalk and cheese.Shelvey was quality, Joelinton played like Kante, Fernandes looked like a first class defender, Manquillo was excellent"AA replied: I love your optimism my friend and I completely agree; staving off relegation won’t depend upon signings, but upon how quickly Howe can get the existing players implementing his style. Obviously one or two signings would be nice, but the team we saw last night will still be the core for the rest of the season.161

      More replies (11)

    • I

      Comment posted by I am Lord Lucan, at 10:23 1 Dec

      A reset in the EFL might not be a bad thing….231

      • H

        Reply posted by Holmes, at 11:49 1 Dec

        "A reset in the EFL might not be a bad thing…."Holmes replied: Ha ha ha…..a reset to what?910

    • G

      Comment posted by Gandalf, at 10:09 1 Dec

      I think the point about attracting players is spot on. Looking at NUFC’s fixture list for December, it’s grim reading. Unless they pull off some surprise results, they’re likely to go into the January transfer window bottom of the table, needing ~30 points in the second half of the season simply to stay up. Persuading players to tie themselves to that ship will be hard.211

    • R

      Comment posted by ronnie, at 10:19 1 Dec

      Transfers in January are purely about keeping the club in the premiership . The paper talk of certain big name stars coming is nonsense . One step at a time . If all goes well and Newcastle remain in the premiership , then the owners will have to put their money where their mouth is in the summer191

    • S

      Comment posted by shaking my head , at 11:16 1 Dec

      Aston villa went through this , years of underinvestment and players who were not interested , dropped into the championship and gradually rebuilt , its now a much more stable club with supportive owners , a great youth system and has improved year on year. Best thing the toon can do is drop rather than spend big on journeymen who are only interested in payday , rebuild and come back strong.150

      • A

        Reply posted by AA, at 11:22 1 Dec

        "Aston villa went through this , years of underinvestment and players who were not interested , dropped into the championship and gradually rebuilt , its now a much more stable club with supportive owners , a great youth system and has improved year on year. Best thing the toon can do is drop rather than spend big on journeymen who are only interested in payday , rebuild and come back strong."AA replied: This is a really valid point. Newcastle have already done this twice previously and come back stronger, and even that was under terrible management. This time, with financial backing, investment into infrastructure, and a manager with (hopefully) a long-term plan, getting relegated may work out better than surviving in the long run.162

      More replies (1)

    • P

      Comment posted by Paul Brooks, at 10:32 1 Dec

      They need to beat the teams near them which was the issue last night. I think it is clear to everybody that they will not get big names in January. If they can stay up then next summer will be the rebuild time.150

    • Y

      Comment posted by YorkshireCam, at 10:41 1 Dec

      Toon are gannin doon2311

      • S

        Reply posted by swanson79, at 12:13 1 Dec

        "Toon are gannin doon"swanson79 replied: oh sorry Newcastle are going down this is correct12

      More replies (1)

    • K

      Comment posted by Kmelx, at 09:50 1 Dec

      They are going down, it probably won’t be with a pathetic points tally a la Derby County thanks to Howe, but they will be in the championship next season.142

      • M

        Reply posted by My Two Cents, at 09:54 1 Dec

        "They are going down, it probably won’t be with a pathetic points tally a la Derby County thanks to Howe, but they will be in the championship next season."My Two Cents replied: Quite possibly – the results of underinvestment are plain to see, particularly defensively.

        Atmosphere last night was incredible though – as Pat Nevin said ‘if this is what it’s like when they are bottom of the table and winless imagine what it could be like.’

        Finally, win (here’s hoping!), lose or draw, we have our club back.167

      More replies (13)

    • M

      Comment posted by Matthew, at 12:13 1 Dec

      Very good result for the Canaries yesterday! As a self funded club we don’t have the stresses like Newcastle. Given time Eddie will produce good football for the Magpies. However a rebuild in the Championship may be a reality before they win the EPL.110

    • T

      Comment posted by TheMightyBoro, at 09:56 1 Dec

      Howe seems like an odd appointment. He’s never been able to stop his teams conceding before. Dean Smith looks like he is doing well at Norwich and might have been a better option.

      January is massive for the toon, need some big signings for you to stay up.

      End of the day we need at least one team from North East in the prem, and cant see Chris Wilder taking Boro this year with our squad.122

      • C

        Reply posted by cuddlesthekillerwhale, at 13:45 1 Dec

        "Howe seems like an odd appointment. He’s never been able to stop his teams conceding before. Dean Smith looks like he is doing well at Norwich and might have been a better option.January is massive for the toon, need some big signings for you to stay up. End of the day we need at least one team from North East in the prem, and cant see Chris Wilder taking Boro this year with our squad."cuddlesthekillerwhale replied: Dean Smith was still in a job with Villa ( where he should still be IMO) when you appointed Howe.50

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