Eddie Howe: Newcastle United’s long-term man or new-age Mark Hughes?


Newcastle United’s new owners may have arrived after a long time, but more or less everything about the club has remained the same. Well, almost everything. The club sacked Steve Bruce at the end of October, and have now named his replacement – Eddie Howe.

At first glance, it’s not the most glamorous of appointments. Howe is best known for his eight-year spell at Bournemouth, where he turned around the Dorset-based club’s fortunes.

When he first managed the club, they were in the fifth division of English football. He managed to quickly lead them up the pyramid, including an unexpected trip to the Premier League.

The club spent five seasons in the top-flight but Howe was unable to prevent relegation in 2020. Thereafter, he duly resigned from the post and has been out of work ever since.

His lack of fans may seem like a bad sign, but Howe was almost named Celtic manager this summer. Negotiations will eventually break down, but he is now a key figure at Newcastle United.

His appointment, however, draws some parallels to a managerial change made by Manchester City just prior to their takeover by the Abu Dhabi United group.

Mark Hughes Comparison

In 2008, City brought in Mark Hughes to replace Sven-Göran Eriksson in the managerial dug-out. Barely three months later, the club was bought by their current owners.

This naturally sparked some debate – the new owners were, after all, more likely to install their own men rather than retain those left behind by the previous regime.

However, the city stuck with Hughes – and provided him with a huge amount of money. The new owners meant business and there was no shortage of quality.

But it wasn’t enough to keep Hughes on the job. He stayed for a little over a season before being sacked in December 2009, being replaced by Roberto Mancini.

And Hughes, it should be noted, didn’t just have luck getting the job. His four years at Blackburn Rovers saw the club rise from relegation strugglers to play in the UEFA Cup – the tournament now known as the Europa League.

Granted, they finished 10th in their third season but finished 7th again the following year. Indeed, the job at Blackburn and his earlier impressive spell in charge of Wales had drawn praise from Hughes’ City appointment.

Instead, his time at the club was poor in every way. And he was soon replaced by a man who could make better use of the elite players at hand.

Eddie Howe would be seen in many quarters as a similar appointment. He wasn’t even Newcastle’s first choice – that would have been Unai Emery, who publicly turned down the job after his current club Villarreal were angered by the approach.

A manager doing a good job in small teams before being unable to step-up is not a new story. David Moyes suffered the same fate at Manchester United after his spell at Everton.

Benefits of Hiring Eddie Howe

Will it be the same fate? It is entirely possible. However, it is also unfair to write off the young English manager at such an early stage.

Yes, there are many places where he can improve but it would be foolish to suggest that he does not have the makings of a good manager.

For one, his record at Bournemouth deserves respect. On an extremely low budget, he promoted them several times – from the fourth tier to the top flight.

This then saw them remain in the Premier League for a full five seasons. Above all, he played a brand of football that was attractive to watch.

His style of play will undoubtedly appeal to Newcastle fans who have grown tired of the safety-first football they have played over the years. At the same time, his newfound wealth ensured that Howe would have access to the type of players he did not have at Bournemouth.

On top of that, Howe is very much of the modern era of managers; The type who put in the hard yards on the training ground. Howe’s ability to coach players is unremarkable; Collectively and individually he made a number of improvements at Bournemouth.

Given there is no real identity in the Newcastle side, Howe will be a breath of fresh air in that regard. His Bournemouth side played in a well defined and stylish manner, and fans will be hoping he can translate that into his current job as well.

Where should he improve?

Of course, there are aspects of his managerial game at which Eddie Howe needs to get better – and faster. The first would be his ability to organize the defense.

His Bournemouth side was amazing in attack but very open at the back. Due to this, they lost more goals than they should have got.

Another worrying aspect would be his record in the transfer market. No charge could be placed on Howe’s ability as a coach, but Bournemouth made some real missteps under him.

Jefferson Lerma, Jordan Ibe, Brad Smith and Dominique Solanki all rank as particularly bad business. Lerma is still at the club but has not fully lived up to his potential.

Solanki has finally started scoring in the Championship, meaning his time in the side can finally be seen as a success. However, Ibe and Smith were terrible signings.

Ibe arrived for 15 million GBP, spent four years at the club and scored just 4 goals. He went free. Brad Smith was signed for GBP 6 million, made 5 appearances over four years and left on a free.

Given that Newcastle can sign any player they please, Howe will be under pressure from the outset. Navigating will be trickier for him than before.

Yet if Howe can stabilize the team as a Premier League team, he will be seen as a success. Newcastle United is going that way. Any progress from here is good for the club – and for Howe.

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