Eddie Howe reveals big Newcastle United move
This budding footballer wrote his letter to Santa earlier this month while Howe was in Saudi Arabia with his Newcastle United squad.
And the comprehensive list showed that it really well be a black and white Christmas in the Howe household following their relocation from Bournemouth earlier this year.
“My wife has just sent me a letter from my eight-year-old,” said Howe, who was still living in a hotel this time last year.
“I’ll read you a bit. You’ll be pleased to hear some of this … a Fitbit, Air Pods, Newcastle away kit (green and white), PSG home kit, three walkie talkies – he’s got two brothers – Newcastle home shorts and socks, Newcastle away (blue and yellow), Match Attax, footballs, chocolate, Where’s Wally book.”
Howe’s Christmas list ahead of the Premier League restart is a bit shorter.
Heart and effort
“I’ll give you a very cliched answer, but, as long as I get the heart and effort from the players, it is all I ever ask for,” said United’s head coach, who has scheduled a Christmas Day training session ahead of the Leicester City game on Boxing Day.
“Everything else good comes off the back of that.
“When I watch the team, week in, week out, I’ve seen a commitment and desire to do well for the team. As long as I see that, I’m happy.”
Newcastle, in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals after beating Bournemouth this week, are third in the Premier League ahead of the Premier League restart.
However, Howe says the team must now “start all over again” following the mid-season World Cup break – and this is something he’s drilled into his players since they reported back to the club from a short break.
“It’s very difficult, because this season is unlike any other,” said Howe. “It almost starts again now.
“The form we previously had, there is no guarantee that will continue. We have to earn the right, we have to start all over again. The biggest danger we have is to think back to how well we’ve done – and relax and stay in that mood.
“We have to come back and be determined to do it all again. That’s very important for us.”
It’s been quite a ride so far this season, and Howe stepped off one rollercoaster and on to another during a brief break with his family last month.
“I went to Paris and Eurodisney with my three boys and wife, which was an amazing experience, and we really enjoyed it,” said the 44-year-old, who was appointed late last year.
“I went on one really bad ride. I’m not one for rollercoasters at all. I was told ‘oh yeah, it’s a family ride’, so I went on with the three boys.
“It was one of the worst couple of minutes of my life! I was chucked around, all over this turtle thing. I came off and felt sick for the rest of the day. There’s a lesson – do your research and find out what you’re going on!
“So it’s very similar to doing this job! You just have to go with the ride – and cling on.”
Newcastle fans, certainly, are enjoying the ride this season. The hope is on Tyneside that the club can maintain its challenge near the top of the table - and qualify for Europe for the first time in more than a decade.
To that end, Howe was grateful for the opportunity to have a quick “mental refresh” ahead of a demanding second half of the season.
“I’ve had a mental refresh, which I think is important for myself and my coaching team to go into the second half of the season, because when you look at the schedule we have, it's intense,” said Howe.
Howe, at least, is able to have a proper family Christmas with his wife Vicki and their three sons this year, having been living in a hotel overlooking the Tyne a year ago following his appointment as Steve Bruce’s managerial successor.
“We were in the Hilton last Christmas with the three boys,” said Howe. “It was actually really nice, we even had a tree! We tried to make it special for them, and they really enjoyed it.
“But this year will be special. I’m so proud of how Vicki and the boys have adapted to life here and have tried to buy into everything.”
A magical Christmas
Howe and his family are now living in a city suburb in a house familiar to a Newcastle legend, though the 44-year-old didn’t know just who had lived there before him until after he moved in.
“I didn’t know until I moved in,” said Howe. “I turned on the TV – and Alan’s Netflix came up! It was there on the screen, ‘Al’, so I thought, ‘oh, the last owner was called Al’.
“It was only then someone said to me it was Alan Shearer! I did not dare go back in and check what he had been watching!
“I’ve spoken to him about it – and we spoke about the house. I’m hoping a bit of his magic rubs off on me!”
The magic has been happening on the pitch this season, but Howe and his players have been working hard over the past few weeks to ensure that they can keep surprising the Premier League.
And, in Shearer’s old house, one young United fan is set for a magical Christmas.