Eddie Howe has the 'respect' he needs to succeed at Newcastle United
So, the “fella from Bournemouth … that got a team relegated” has the Newcastle United job.
Those were Steve Bruce’s words almost 10 months ago in response to questions about his future at the club.
Bruce, ironically, made those disrespectful comments as he demanded more “respect” amid a dreadful run of results.
Howe, today appointed as the club’s head coach, isn’t the big name that some fans had wanted, but, certainly, he has the respect of a fanbase which had been underwhelmed with the club’s previous managerial appointment.
Supporters want a progressive coach who will bring a clear vision to the role – and will give their team an identity. Bruce simply couldn’t do that in his time in charge.
The problem for Howe is that he’s inherited a team which is struggling at both ends of the park – and also in the middle. There are problems all over the pitch, and Howe must quickly find solutions.
There’s so much to do, and it’s not a surprise that the 43-year-old is in a hurry to get to work.
“This is a wonderful opportunity, but there’s also a lot of work ahead of us, and I’m eager to get on to the training ground to start working with the players,” said Howe, who left Bournemouth 15 months ago following the club’s relegation from the Premier League.
Howe saw “the scale of the task” himself at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
Newcastle were awful for 45 minutes against Brighton and Hove Albion, but, on the flip side, they managed to stay in the game – and claim a point.
There’s a lot to work on over the coming days, weeks and months, but there’s also plenty to work with. The squad is short of quality in key areas, but the group, as a whole, isn’t short of commitment.
Howe, of course, wants to play the right way. Bournemouth played out from the back, but playing that way at the foot of the Premier League isn’t easy. Howe, though, must find a way.
Rafa Benitez often talked about his “short blanket” when asked to explain his tactical approach to games. Howe has the same problem. He’s inherited an uncomfortably short blanket, despite a significant net spend in Bruce’s two years at St James's Park.
Graeme Jones, put in interim charge following Bruce’s departure last month, had to adjust that blanket in his three games in charge.
United were far too open under Bruce this season, and Jones, understandably, tried to shore the team up as the club’s new owners set about recruiting a successor to the 60-year-old.
Jones spoke about “stopping the rot”. However, that defensive adjustment came at a cost at the other end of the pitch, and Howe – who worked with Callum Wilson, Matt Ritchie and Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth – must now make his own changes to get the balance right.
Newcastle also face a brutal run of games next month before the club is able to strengthen in January’s transfer window.
For now, the solutions to the club’s problems must come from within the four walls of the dressing room.
And, in Howe, Staveley has recruited a capable coach who should be able to improve the group – both individually and collectively.