CRAIG HOPE: Eddie Howe knows he’s already fighting for his own future as well as that of his new club, the task at hand is a Premier League survival mission… but he hopes he can be the man for more than that
- Eddie Howe has delighted in returning to the Premier League with Newcastle
- The 43-year-old has taken over as Magpies boss following Steve Bruce’s sacking
- Howe is tasked with staving off the threat of relegation for his struggling squad
- He has called on his stars to make the sacrifices necessary to survive the drop
There were no grand declarations of intent, a la Amanda Staveley five weeks ago. This, rather, was more a Howe To Guide To Survival.
Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe stopped short of labelling himself Red Adair, but he did take a hose to expectation.
The most revealing aspect of his unveiling at St James’ Park was not what has been discussed with the new Saudi-led ownership – but more so what has not.
New Newcastle boss Eddie Howe is on a survival mission with the club in the drop zone
The world’s richest owners they may be, but any talk of the Champions League has been shelved when the immediate concern is the Championship.
Asked if he had spoken to the Saudis about their vision for the future, Howe said: ‘No, I have spoken to Amanda. But we have not gone into details or been seeking assurances for two, three or four years’ time, because it’s not relevant at this moment.
‘There might come a time – I hope there does – when we have that conversation about the long-term vision, but it is not now.’
In the period between the completion of the £305million takeover and today, there has been a reality check on Tyneside, in large part due to the team slipping five points from safety.
The 43-year-old has taken over at Newcastle following Steve Bruce’s sacking last month (pictured: club director Amanda Staveley, right, and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi, left)
Staveley and Howe were asked similar questions in terms of what would represent success. Last month, the co-owner spoke of winning the Premier League within 10 years and challenging Manchester City and Paris-Saint Germain on a global front.
Howe, his voice hoarse from two days on the training pitch, said: ‘Success now is staying in the Premier League. It’s not going to be a smooth road. I’m not coming here and underestimating what is in front of us. There is no magic wand. We have a big gap already to catch teams above us. Now, it’s all about the short-term.
‘But I am absolutely confident we can stay up. I believe we have the players to achieve that, but it will take a lot of hard work, sacrifice and suffering, and the players giving everything they have.’
For now, then, Howe will have to work with what he has inherited, especially with a season-defining nine matches to come before January.
Howe is tasked with staving off the threat of relegation with Newcastle struggling this term
He is mindful not to kill the confidence of an already-fragile group by sounding off about transfers and the need for investment, even if it is what supporters want to hear. But, likewise, fans will not mind the realism of his message from here inside St James’ Park.
In 48 hours of Howe’s management they have taken to the 43-year-old with great enthusiasm. A video of him running during a training drill has been edited to the Baywatch theme music, a fitting tribute given his duty is to save their team.
Howe hopes he can be the man for more than that and, in January, his wife and three sons will relocate to the North-East.
The family’s lives changed inside 24 hours last week when, with the club expecting to appoint Unai Emery, the Spaniard performed a U-turn and attention quickly switched to Howe. Not that he minded being second choice.
The Englishman has called on his stars to make the sacrifices necessary to avoid the drop
That much was apparent on Wednesday when the former Bournemouth boss visited St James’ for the first time since arriving in Newcastle on Monday night.
‘When you open the doors, walk down the tunnel, imagine bygone eras and players… it’s incredible,’ he said, before emerging onto the pitch alongside Staveley and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi.
‘I am absolutely honoured and privileged. It is an incredible moment in my life.’
Howe was later pressed on whether he had reservations about taking the job given Saudi’s record on human rights.
He made no promises as to securing the club’s top-flight status with relegation a real threat (pictured with Staveley, left and Ghodoussi, right)
‘For me, this was a football decision,’ he said. ‘My focus is football, running the team and managing the players – that’s all I am here to talk about.’
He could, and probably should, have expanded. But Howe, no matter the subject, was not deviating from his theme of this being about a survival mission.
From the romanticism of the owners to the pragmatism of the manager in little over a month, Howe knows he is already fighting for his future, as well as that of his new club.
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