Newcastle United transfer business: Eddie Howe reveals why he was not surprised at deals done and his ‘pledge’ to supporters ahead of relegation run-in
For once, the window didn’t seem like an afterthought and Newcastle were proactive in their attempts to strengthen the squad.
Five players arrived for an outlay of close to £100million and although many expected Newcastle to do business, seeing it in action was a surprise to many supporters who had grown used to winter window disappointment.
However, Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe admitted that he was not surprised about their efforts in the January market, insisting that it was the foundations laid before the window that allowed them to complete the deals:
“No, not surprised necessarily because obviously before January, we put a lot of work into potential signings and we had our plan and we had the areas that we wanted to strengthen.
“But there were, as probably you all saw throughout that month, many twists and turns. You can have your best-laid plans, but they may not pan out that way.
“But I wouldn't say I was surprised by what we've done. We did what we needed to do and now we've got to do the hard bit, which is getting points on the pitch."
Newcastle now face a tough battle to survive the drop this season and Howe is ready for the challenge:
“I’m under no illusions as the manager of this huge club that I’m always going to be in the firing line,” he said.
“The pressure is there whether you spend money in the transfer market or if you haven’t. I have no problem with that. I fully understand it. I’ve made decisions that I think benefit the club and the team. I’ve tried to make them to the best of my ability. I hope that shows on the pitch.
Howe continued: “I felt we have come out the window stronger than when we entered it and that is always the most important thing.
“The most important thing for me is not that we signed good players but we signed good characters. The group is now stronger mentally. There is a very positive feeling in the group at the moment.”
The £92m spent on five players was the most Newcastle have ever spent in a winter window, however, their precarious position in the Premier League means that survival is far from guaranteed.
So how does Howe rate his side’s chances of beating the drop this season?
"Very difficult to give an answer to those questions, I do feel we have a good squad, but you cannot make any predictions and you can't make any pledges or promises to what will happen. I have been in football too long to do that.
“I would like to think we are stronger than we were and I think the spirit and harmony in the group is very good and I'd like to think the players are absolutely motivated to fight tooth and nail in every minute of every game to try and get ourselves out of the relegation zone.
“That is what I can pledge in terms of what we will give to it but beyond that, it is in the lap of the football gods."