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22nd Feb 2022

The Eddie Howe effect – making Newcastle United again

Luke Jennings

Eddie Howe

Newcastle United are currently unbeaten in six matches under Eddie Howe.

Eddie Howe took charge of Newcastle United in November in hope of keeping them in the Premier League.

The Magpies currently sit outside the relegation zone in 17th thanks to a six-game unbeaten run dating back to December.

The former Bournemouth boss took charge of Newcastle after 11 league games – the Toon were joint bottom on five points – the only Premier League team not to win a game at the time.

Eddie Howe

If you were to look at the league table ever since Howe took over, they would sit 11th – eight points safe of the relegation zone – seven points off a Champions League place.

This is a big change in comparison. What has Howe altered in Newcastle’s playing style to transcend their turn of fortune?

Overall, this season the Geordies have the lowest possession stats on average in the Premier League with 38.6%. This is a result of his predecessor’s philosophy.

The Steve Bruce era.

Newcastle under Steve Bruce played in a 5-3-2 formation – this style was regarded as a park-the-bus way of playing. A lot of emphasis was on Allan Saint-Maximin (playing as a roaming striker) picking the ball up from deep and creating chances himself by running at defenders.

Last season, Bruce was at the helm for the full campaign. Newcastle finished 19th on possession statistics with 38.3% possession on average per match. However, the Toon finished 12th in the Premier League table.

It became clear to the opposition – if you stop Saint-Maximin – you stop Newcastle. It would be a crisis on Tyneside when the Frenchman picked up an injury as the team would then be significantly disadvantaged.

Large sections of Newcastle supporters turned on Bruce during this season due to the negative style of football. Some within the media would defend the Newcastle manager by highlighting results and league position.

Yet, Newcastle fans felt Bruce’s tenure would eventually lead to relegation. The first 11 games of the Premier League 2021/22 season prior to Howe coming in emphasized that line of thought.

Newcastle’s dwindling defence since Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez was known for having a shore defence throughout his managerial career. He brought this way of playing to St. James’ Park. In his two full seasons in charge of Newcastle in the Premier League – he had the seventh-best defence in the division for both seasons. (2017/18 – 2018/19 campaigns)

When Bruce came in for the 2019-20 season. Newcastle’s defence went from seventh to 14th-best. The following season – the defence dwindled again falling to 16th-best in the Premier League.

When Eddie Howe came in during November 2021, Newcastle had the second-worst defensive record in the division.

It is clear to see that Bruce’s defensive style of football did not translate to fewer goals conceded. The further away Newcastle came from the Benitez era the worse they got defensively.

Eddie Howe

How Newcastle has changed under Eddie.

Newcastle now plays a 4-1-2-3 formation with the ball under Eddie Howe and falls into a 4-1-4-1 out of possession.

Out of possession, the Toon press as a unit, and when the ball is won the defence keep a high line. Newcastle fans have not seen either from their team in recent seasons.

Ever since Howe was appointed, Newcastle went from having the second-worst defence in the Premier League – to now 11th. The club spending over ¬£90m in the January transfer window has also helped the team’s fortunes.

But Howe has proved that Newcastle can play progressively while also improving their defensive record.

Eddie Howe

Overall, Howe is now getting the best out of players like Fabian Schar and Jonjo Shelvey – who were squad players this season under Bruce but are now in line for new contracts. Joelinton now plays as a box-to-box midfielder instead of striker, a position which he got man-of-the-match against Man United.

Under the new ownership regime at St. James’ Park – Howe is leading the charge to a brighter future for Newcastle United.

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