Eddie Howe reveals Newcastle United training ground meetings which underline mood on Tyneside
There’s no escaping the optimism on Tyneside – even at 6.15am.
That’s the time Eddie Howe’s been arriving at Newcastle United’s training ground this week ahead of tomorrow’s season-opener against Nottingham Forest. Each day, Howe has been greeted by a small group of fans.
United’s head coach spends much of his time at the training ground, which is partly a construction site following the start of work on a much-needed extension.
Howe is also building – the 44-year-old’s putting together team which, he hopes, can compete for a top-10 finish and go far in the cups – and he hasn’t had too much interaction with fans in the city given the long hours he’s putting in.
The excitement, however, is inescapable.
“I’m not really a social animal, so I haven’t bumped into people too many times,” said Howe. “I walk on the Moor, so I’m not sure I’ll pick up too much from that!
“But I can generally feel the positive energy at the moment, a positive vibe. That’s around the city and training ground. I see the supporters outside the training ground, and they’re incredibly passionate and loyal.
“I’ve had supporters stop me at quarter past six in the morning every day this week now. That’s incredible, and they’re staying until late.
“I left late last night, and there were still people there. It shows their energy, enthusiasm, positivity and loyalty for the club.”
Howe, of course, is excited too, having recruited Sven Botman, Nick Pope and Matt Targett to his squad, though there’s work still to be done in the transfer market – and a limited budget for the club’s remaining business.
“There’s that feeling at the start of every season,” said Howe. “What will happen? What can we do? What can we achieve? That excitement’s there. But we have to not be over-hyped, because that could be a negative on your performance.”
Howe, though, isn’t afraid to set out his main ambition as head coach.
Asked for his aim, Howe said: “A trophy, we would love to achieve that for everyone connected with the team, whether this is this season – or beyond.
“If I sat here and said i didn’t want to win a trophy, there’d be something wrong with me. That’s my dream, to win silverware. I have to dream big on behalf of the club. It’s not saying ‘we’ll do it’, it’s my dream.
“We have to work to do it. and I push the staff and players to try to make that dream a reality.”
To that end, Howe is demanding a more “free-flowing” team which is “dominant” on the ball and “better defensively”.
Howe – who left Bournemouth in the summer of 2020 – had long planned for his return to management – and he “couldn’t be happier” in the post.
"I couldn’t be happier here,” said Howe. “I’m absolutely loving the challenge. It’s a difficult job, but I’m trying to embrace every aspect of it.
"The people I’m integrating with on a daily basis are top, top people with a great outlook on life and professionally.
"I have everything in place that I feel I need to be successful here. That’s not trying to put too much pressure on myself, but I’m very, very happy and enjoying the job.”