As boss Eddie Howe signs a new long-term deal, optimism flows through Tyneside… Newcastle has transformed from a comedy club to serious contenders
- Newcastle United have announced Howe has signed a long-term deal with the club
- Howe arrived on Tyneside in November and led the team to the middle ground
- The 44-year-old must now struggle with the weight of expectations
Yesterday at 6:15 am a group of Newcastle fans met Eddie Howe at the gates of the training ground.
A few hours earlier, at a comedy club in the city center, a sold-out preview event of the season with journalists and supporters pushed the limits of the latest orders.
Optimism and enthusiasm for Howe and his team now flows through Tyneside 24/7. Until recently, the comedy club was Newcastle United.
It says a lot for the appreciation fans have of Howe that during the True Faith live show on Thursday night, some expressed concern that England will call their head coach before the season is over.
Eddie Howe has signed a new long-term deal to rule St James’ Park
“I couldn’t be happier here,” Howe said when told of such a concern yesterday, just hours before it was announced he’d signed a new, long-term contract. ‘I like the challenge. I have everything in place that I think I need to be successful.
“It was great to have a preseason. I’ve been able to go into detail with the players about how I want us to play. I have been able to build stronger relationships. I feel much more out of place. I am in a house now and my family will be with me in a few weeks. I definitely feel in the right place.’
The goal for this season then?
“We would like a trophy — I have to dream big on behalf of the club. The challenge is to maintain the form we showed in the second part of last season. But we’re in a good place now.’
The job Howe has done – Newcastle was fourth in the form table as of January – coupled with Saudi-backed owners who spent £150m on seven new players over the same period has led to unprecedented expectations in the new campaign. With Bruno Guimaraes from Brazil, they have a potential superstar.
Sven Botman has arrived from Lille to bolster the club’s defensive options
All the talk among fans is that European qualification is a must if they want to maintain their climb to the top of the Premier League, and also keep Bruno happy. The manager is aware of the feel-good vibe, but also has an eye for it.
“Positivity, enthusiasm, energy, we’re going to need all those things in the stadium, so I embrace that and encourage that from our supporters,” Howe said. “But sometimes it’s dangerous for the players. You must be cool, calm and composed. We must adhere to the processes behind our performance.’
Confidence was the only word that came out of the supporters during the live show, a complete confidence in Howe to get the very best out of the players available, even if there are concerns about the lack of depth in attack areas. However, the latter should be a concern.
England goalkeeper Nick Pope also arrived on Tyneside this summer
Newcastle’s failed pursuit of Leicester midfielder James Maddison this week felt like they were averting their gaze from the ball regarding the need for a striker – Callum Wilson starts against Nottingham Forest today and he’s brilliant but not when he’s in treatment room.
Their quest for offensive reinforcements continues, but it was revealing when Howe warned about budget constraints.
“Financial Fair Play affects us and I believe will continue to affect us for several years to come,” he said. “We don’t have the free rein that may have been perceived in the media, that we can sign whoever we want and pay extortionate prices and wages.
“We are not in that position and I don’t think we will be for a while. We have to be creative and smart and try to make the right additions within the financial constraints we have.’
There are no such restrictions on fan zeal – the crowd waiting for Howe at 6am tells you that much. Then, why was he only a quarter past?
‘Yes, I was fifteen minutes late!’ he said. “I’m a bit uncomfortable because I have a minor back problem, so I was a bit late.”
The cause may well be the weight of the expectation that the Newcastle boss will bring to the new season.