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Eddie Howe


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On January 15, a 1-1 home draw with Watford left Newcastle United entrenched in the Premier League relegation zone, with 12 points from 20 matches and just one victory to their name all season.

Fast forward six weeks, and they are now two points clear of the bottom three thanks to a dramatic turnaround that has included three wins in their last four matches - part of a six-game unbeaten streak.

Telegraph Sport has spoken to those working behind the scenes at St James' Park to piece together the secrets behind their revival. 

The managerial 'hermit's' 12-hour days


Nobody has been more integral to Newcastle launching themselves out of the relegation zone than Eddie Howe, whose hard work, attention to detail and meticulous preparation has turned Newcastle into one of the best prepared, as well as fittest, sides in the Premier League.

After a slow start, which brought just one win in 10 games, as well as the humiliation of FA Cup defeat to Cambridge, Newcastle are reaping the benefits of Howe’s appointment. The 44-year-old was front and centre of the club’s January transfer window, with one senior figure revealing he was “de facto sporting director as well as manager.”

 

It was not a role he expected to fill - and he did not especially enjoy it - but it meant he got players he wanted to fill specific roles and address particular weaknesses. 

His ability to help with recruitment was an unexpected bonus, but it is as a coach that Howe is excelling. A self-confessed football geek, Howe has spent so many hours working, either at the training ground or in his hotel, that he still genuinely has no idea what the city looks like in daylight.

Although Howe’s work ethic was well known from his time at Bournemouth, the way he has thrown himself into the job at Newcastle has surprised long-serving staff members. Howe normally arrives at work at around 6:30am and leaves at 6pm, eating alone at his hotel, before watching videos and planning training sessions, sometimes in bed, before going to sleep at 10pm.

 

A source close to Howe, who will move into a flat soon, even joked that he has been “living like a football Hermit, without any friends, family or social life… because every part of him is focused entirely on making sure Newcastle stay up.”

His coaching staff - who are all, with the exception of Graeme Jones, long term confidants - are used to operating alongside a “workaholic” with a “strict but fair management style.”

 

There have been bumps in the road. Some players have needed to be disciplined and reminded of their responsibilities to the club and each other. “He has an aura about him and a temper to go with it,” according to one source. "He is not just obsessive about football, he is a leader and an excellent man manager."

Howe has kept everyone together, blending in five new signings in January without upsetting those already at the club. Even those who were left out of the 25-man squad last month have spoken positively about him.

 

The club’s new owners have been so impressed by Howe they are confident he will be in charge of the team for for many years to come.

 

Joelinton's transformation
Although much of the focus has rested on Newcastle’s improved defence, where new signings Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn have been superb and Fabian Schar’s return to form at centre back means he will be offered a new contract, it is not merely a change in personnel that has turned the worst defence in the league into one that has conceded just four goals since December 19. Instead, you must look further up the pitch.

The statistics show that Newcastle are not scoring more goals or creating more chances under Howe. They are not even seeing much more of the ball, but they are far harder to break down and have become a nightmare to play against in midfield.

 

That was where Newcastle were being overrun, struggling to plug holes in a leaky defence which was easy to cut through.

Howe’s success in rectifying things has not come in the transfer market -  the club’s record £43m January signing, Bruno Guimarães, has not started a game yet. Instead, much of it is to do with the transformation of Joelinton from failing forward to destructive midfield enforcer.

The Brazilian has been a laughing stock for much of his two-and-a-half years on Tyneside, but is reborn under Howe as a physical box-to-box midfielder, and outplayed Declan Rice at the London Stadium last weekend. They are now selling Hawaian shirts with Joelinton’s face on, such is his new-found popularity.

With his ability to win the ball, as well as his endurance covering ground, it has protected the infamously slow Jonjo Shelvey and allowed him to concentrate on linking play. 

 

'Frank' discussions with Willock
For five months, Willock looked like a player who had made a mistake signing for Newcastle. He was low on confidence, as well as confused about what was expected from him, first under Steve Bruce and then Howe.

His return to form has been a welcome surprise, the former Newcastle captain, Alan Shearer, correctly describing the team’s goalscorer as the “best player on the pitch” during the 1-1 draw against West Ham.

Sources have told Telegraph Sport that no player has occupied more of Howe's time than Willock. The 22-year-old has been indulged, encouraged and comforted, but he has also been shown some “really tough love” too. 

Howe liked the player, his ability and athleticism, but did not like what he saw in training or games. There have been some frank conversations about the standards expected and the work that needs to be done. In short, as one well placed figure put it, “Joe needed to grow up, he needed to work harder and he needed to focus more.”

 

But there are other reasons for the rejuvenation. Willock is simply more settled in the North East; happier in his new surroundings and content with the decision to leave his native London.

Telegraph Sport can reveal for the first time just how difficult things were for the former Arsenal midfielder, who was effectively forced out of his boyhood club by Mikel Arteta. He moved hundreds of miles away from his family and friends, living on his own in a rural, isolated location in Northumberland - a decision made when he was advised to avoid the distractions of Newcastle’s famous nightlife. 

Willock has suffered from severe homesickness, silently at first, possibly because he was worried how it would be perceived, until coaching staff realised what was wrong and spoke to him about the upheaval in his personal life. 

 

When things had gone well on the pitch, Willock had been able to hide his emotional discomfort at leaving London for the first time, but having made the move permanent when he belatedly accepted he was not going to play first team football for Arsenal if he stayed, the shock to the system crippled him. His form immediately suffered and fans slowly turned against him, mistakenly leaping to the conclusion his loan form had given a false impression of his ability while others took his poor body language and unhappiness as a sign he did not really want to play for the club.

There may have been some early misgivings, but Willock is far more settled and his happiness off the pitch, as well as Howe’s decision to challenge and, initially criticise him, has had the desired effect. Willock is finally justifying Bruce’s decision to spend all of the club’s summer transfer budget on him. He looks like a £20million plus player again. Arsenal may still regret their decision to let him leave.

 

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It's a really interesting take on the Willock situation. They make a valid point that the dynamics are different given he's patently aware this is a permanent change and doesn't have 'i'll be soon back with my family and mates' which clearly allowed him to play the free-flowing football. 

Which clown stuck him in rural Northumberland FFS? A young lad moving away from his family for the first time needs to feel embraced, not isolated. Fucking morons that were running this club....

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27 minutes ago, Meenzer said:

Aye, it's one thing not wanting to put him in a city centre apartment but surely there's a middle ground between that and sticking him on a farm. :lol:  

 

You'd think so wouldn't you? Did we actually employ and sports psychologists before the takeover, or was it just they were as shit as the Head Coach, Managing Director & Club Owner? 

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1 hour ago, wykikitoon said:

Interesting read.

Bruce wouldn't have had the time for Willock.  He would have been too busy trying to get home than thinking about his players.

Bruce probably rented him the house

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6 hours ago, The Fish said:

Nobody has been more integral to Newcastle launching themselves out of the relegation zone than Eddie Howe, whose hard work, attention to detail and meticulous preparation has turned Newcastle into one of the best prepared, as well as fittest, sides in the Premier League.

 

6 hours ago, The Fish said:

Although Howe’s work ethic was well known from his time at Bournemouth, the way he has thrown himself into the job at Newcastle has surprised long-serving staff members. Howe normally arrives at work at around 6:30am and leaves at 6pm, eating alone at his hotel, before watching videos and planning training sessions, sometimes in bed, before going to sleep at 10pm.

He's not the new Keegan, if anything he seems more like Benitez with the obsessive attention to detail work ethics. I was gutted at the time that Rafa wasn't available, but in hindsight seems we might have the best parts of Rafa's coaching but with a more progressive style and his best years ahead of him.

 

So far definitely better than I expected

 

 

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"I could keep you here for days telling you everything he's done" 

 

- Ryan Fraser in his post match interview on MOTD when asked about the impact Howe has had since coming in. 

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Obviously I’m the nervous Nancy of the group, but this bloke is fucking delivering left right and centre and surpassing what anyone thought he could do here. 
 

Not just the climb up the table, but the way in which he’s gone about turning a bunch of misfits into a fighting machine.

 

Its clear he literally lives and sleeps NUFC, whether that’s his 12 hour days at the training ground or his few hours off watching games and training videos.

 

He’s now moved into an apartment but his family won’t be moving up til the summer.

 

Unthinkable that he won’t at least see out his contract and hopefully here for many years after.

 

What a leader and what an ambassador for the club.

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He’s some boy, like. We’re also seeing that he’s getting a tune out of the squad as a whole with Murphy coming in and fitting in seamlessly and also coping without Trippier. I can’t wait to see what we look like when the summer sees another 4/5 players of genuine quality come in

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The defensive stats are absolutely staggering tbh, which is insanely encouraging given that was Howes area of weakness in his last job. He is clearly constantly improving and is hungry. Of course many will laugh at Staveley’s “we want him to be our Sir Alex Ferguson” comment but he’s basically the same age Ferguson was when he took over Manchester United, I’m obviously not saying he is going to be that level of manager but it shows how young he is and how much time he has to improve and grow as a coach. 
 

The people on the outside can scream all they want that it’s purely down to money, the same way they’re all still laughing that we rate Joelinton and he’s playing CM, in time they’ll learn how wrong they are. The same people were laughing at us signing Burn and Targett a few weeks back as well. 

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