Eddie Howe has unearthed Newcastle United’s £3m ‘Rolls Royce’

Fabian Schar’s second half thunderbolt jolted Newcastle United’s season to life against Nottingham Forest at St James’s Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Magpies were in control and knocking on the door against their newly-promoted opposition but lacked killer instinct in front of goal.

That was until Schar picked the ball up 40-yards out and brought it to the corner of the penalty area before unleashing a powerful drive into the top right corner of the goal to send the St James's Park crowd wild.

The strike was described as ‘unbelievable’ on commentary but in reality it was anything but – Schar has it in his locker, having scored a near identical goal against Burnley back in February 2019.

It was the Swiss international’s third goal in his last 11 appearances for Newcastle having also found the net against Brighton and Tottenham Hotspur late last season.

Aside from the remarkable transformation we’ve seen from Joelinton, Schar is arguably Eddie Howe’s next greatest success story at Newcastle.

The United head coach has been an admirer of the defender for years having previously tried to sign him for Bournemouth.

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Newcastle United's Swiss defender Fabian Schar (R) celebrates with Newcastle United's English defender Kieran Trippier (L) after scoring his team first goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on August 6, 2022. (Photo by NIGEL RODDIS/AFP via Getty Images)

When Howe arrived last November, Schar’s future at the club was uncertain with his contract soon to expire after an extended period of being underused and incorrectly utilised by the club.

His ball-playing, positive approach was deemed simply too risky by a club who were used to playing matches on the back foot.

Yet 10 months on and Newcastle is a club transformed, positive and intense in their approach with Schar tied down to a new two-year deal.

Following a strong pre-season, the 30-year-old went into the new season as the club’s first choice centre-back. The big question going into the opening day wasn’t whether Schar would start or not, it was who would start alongside him?

Would it be the reliable presence of Dan Burn or the flashy new arrival in Sven Botman?

Howe went for the former, which had brought his side so much success during the second half of last season.

In Newcastle’s ‘our identity is intensity’ approach, Schar has been able to shine as a ball-playing centre-half at both ends of the pitch. Saturday’s win saw him open Newcastle’s account for the season at one end while also making a crucial block to deny Jesse Lingard at the other.

On Schar’s goal, Howe said: “It was an incredible strike, from a player who does the unconventional. A centre-back shooting from that range? I probably wouldn’t have reached [the goal] if it was me playing!

“He’s capable of doing things like and producing special moments. I was questioning his decision to hit it, but I was delighted when it hit the net. We sort of needed a goal like that to break the deadlock.”

The £3million paid by Newcastle to Deportivo La Coruna for Schar in 2018 will go down as one of the club’s best purchases of recent years.

The fact that every other player in Newcastle’s starting line-up on Saturday cost the club in excess of £10million just proves what a bargain he has been.

Newcastle’s defence previously viewed as the problem area is now arguably the club’s most formidable – and Schar is the Rolls Royce at the centre.