Stuck in the red zone during the first part of the season, Newcastle is now transformed under the direction of Eddie Howe. Fourteenth in the standings, four points ahead of 18th Burnley, the Magpies have not experienced defeat in the league since December 19. Between an interesting recruitment and revived players, focus on the revival of the Toons.
As the 28th day of the Premier League begins this Saturday, it is a Newcastle in full confidence who will try to snatch a new success in their stadium against Brighton (4 p.m., on RMC Sport). In 2022, Allan Saint-Maximin’s teammates have not once experienced defeat in the league. A finding that is surprising, given the disastrous first part of the season made by the Magpies.
The club, now owned by the Saudi public investment fund, had to wait until last December and a meeting against Burnley (1-0), in order to achieve its first league victory. Almost doomed to relegation a few weeks ago, the Toons were able to bounce back and climb to an improbable 14th place in a handful of games. A rebound that can be explained by several points.
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The Savior Eddie Howe
Present in Newcastle since 2019, Steve Bruce has automatically paid for his people’s bad start to the season. After letting him honor his 1000th game on a bench, punctuated by a defeat against Tottenham (3-2), the new management decided to separate from the Englishman. For several weeks, many names came out in the press, but it was finally Eddie Howe who was chosen to raise the bar.
Without a club since leaving Bournemouth in 2020, Howe was a poor choice on paper. But he was able to accomplish a task, considered almost impossible a few months ago. To get there, the Englishman had to shake up the habits of his players.
In an interview with the BBC, midfielder Ryan Fraser, indisputable starter, explains his coach’s method: “He arrived and changed everything. The philosophy, the unity, the team spirit (… ) The boys adopted him.” Under contract until 2024, the technician has also conquered his leaders.
With The Athletic, Amanda Staveley (general manager) and Mehrdad Ghodoussi (co-owner) expressed their wish to be able to count on Howe for a long time: “We would like Eddie Howe to be the next Alex Ferguson.”
Eden Hazard, Isco, Clément Lenglet… All these names were closely or remotely associated with Newcastle during the last winter transfer window. If many expected to see the Saudis breaking the bank to ensure maintenance in the elite, the reality was very different. Instead of bringing in prestigious names, the management preferred (perhaps a little in spite of itself) to turn to elements accustomed to the Premier League and not needing time to adapt.
A choice bearing fruit. To compensate for the injury of star striker Callum Wilson, the Magpies have spent €30m on Burnley striker Chris Wood. A surprising choice, especially since the New Zealander had scored only three times in the league. Even if he has not yet opened his counter with his new formation, the attacker now has an important role in the system of Howe.
Former Manchester United player Gary Neville hailed the player’s “steady presence”. While noting on Sky Sports, that his primary role is not to chain the goals: “He is not going to score a large number of goals (…) It is not his role in the team to score.” Snatched from Brighton at the end of the transfer window, Dan Burn managed to solidify a defense that had been very fragile until then.
Arrived from Atlético de Madrid to bring his experience, Kierran Tripper did not take long to prove himself indispensable in the right lane of defense. Author of two achievements in four meetings, the Englishman even knew how to be decisive. But a broken foot probably ended his season. A big blow for the Toons.
The rookies are not the only ones contributing to the rebound of the 14th in the Premier League. Many disappointing players at the start of the season are now putting in convincing performances. Flamboyant when he arrived on loan from Arsenal last season with eight goals scored, Joe Willock struggled to repeat the same performance.
Like his team, the midfielder now regains the efficiency that had so appealed to the supporters. With two achievements in the last two league games, the Englishman once again confirms the potential seen in the Gunners.
But Newcastle’s real in-form man is probably Joelinton. Flagship recruit of the transfer window in 2019, the striker has long been disappointing. Not very effective in front of the opposing cages, the Brazilian had all of a flop, but the arrival of Eddie Howe changed everything. Repositioned attacking midfielder, the 25-year-old excels in this position and brings “his athleticism and his dynamic presence”, as entrusted by the former player of the club Lee Clark, to the Chronicle Live.
The Guimaraes Mystery
Flagship rookie of the Magpies, Bruno Guimaraes is surprisingly the big loser of the renewed form of Newcastle. Bought from Olympique Lyonnais for €50m, the Brazilian was to be the star of the team, but since his arrival, the international has started all matches on the sidelines. It must be said that the performances of the midfield composed of Shelvey, Joelinton and Willock do not really encourage Eddie Howe to change his plans.
Asked about the management of this case, the former Bournemouth coach explains that it is difficult for him to upset an eleven chaining the good performances: “Bruno understands that he arrives in a team which is doing very well at the moment. ( …) I’ve been reluctant to make too many changes to the squad when we’re in for a good time.” But Howe assures Guimaraes will soon have the chance to prove his worth: “He will have his opportunities and then it will be up to him to play so well that I won’t want to take him out.”