Eddie Howe's Newcastle United in-tray: SEVEN things new head coach must tackle during international break
Eddie Howe is the new head coach of Newcastle United – and he has a massive job on his hands.
The 43-year-old succeeds Steve Bruce with the Magpies 19th in the Premier League table, without a win from their opening 11 fixtures and five points adrift:
Here, our writer Jordan Cronin outlines SEVEN things Howe must address during the international break as he looks to hit the ground running:
Distribute roles to backroom staff
Howe is expected to bring Jason Tindall, Stephen Purches and Simon Weatherstone with him to Tyneside, as well as inherit Graeme Jones.
The former three, having previously worked with Howe long-term, will have a clear idea of what is required of them. Jones, perhaps, will need a little more attention.
That said, Jones, having assisted Tindall & Co at the Vitality Stadium last year, was knowledgeable and spoke at length when asked about Howe’s methods.
“It is high-tempo attacking football with momentum. Their sessions were innovative, stimulating and detailed.
"That was under Jason, Stephen and Simon – but I would imagine that work came together under Eddie Howe. ”
In Jones’ words, “I'm not here to put cones out”. The 51-year-old will undoubtedly have a key role to play – and it’s up to Howe to establish that along with other members of his coaching staff.
Set out his philosophy
Howe wowed parts of the ownership structure with a detailed interview – offering specifics on how he’d improve the team, and players. He even looked towards the January transfer window.
Simply, it’s now time for Howe to put those words into action. And with that comes creating an identity. A philosophy.
That was one of Bruce’s biggest downfalls as head coach. Even after two years in charge, a style of play remained non-existent. By the end, United were – and still are – in freefall.
Naturally, it will take time for Howe to fully impose his methods but the near two-week break is a good place to start.
Although Martin Dubravka, Fabian Schar, Emil Krafth, Jamal Lewis, Jeff Hendrick and Miguel Almiron have received international call-ups, the vast majority of the first-team squad remain on Tyneside.
Establish relationships with players
Howe will reunite with Ryan Fraser, Callum Wilson and Matt Ritchie at Newcastle – and they’ll be key to helping Howe stamp down his authority.
Tellingly, all three players have spoken positively about Howe – as did Ritchie after the draw against Brighton with words that should instantly motivate the dressing room.
“My time with him was fantastic – I loved every minute,” said Ritchie. “We have a young, hungry group here, and I’m sure he can bring out the best in them if he’s appointed.
"What he did at Bournemouth was nothing short of a miracle. I have all the praise in the world for him. We have some really talented players. It is just about getting the group confidence."
But asides from the trio, Howe has another 20+ players to manage – many, if not all, need to be inspired and coached properly.
Offer a clean slate
Further to the point above, a number of first-team players desperately require a clean slate.
For example, look no further than Fraser. The Scotland international has been miles off it since arriving last summer, even after his small reprieve under Graeme Jones.
It’s Howe's appointment alone that should prompt a long hard look at himself. Fraser formed a deadly partnership with Wilson under Howe at Bournemouth – why shouldn’t he reach those levels again?
Other names that spring to mind is Jamal Lewis – the £15million signing who hasn’t started a Premier League game since February. Dwight Gayle has barely kicked a ball in 18 months.
Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar have also fallen away.
Sort out the defence
Newcastle’s shambolic, abysmal or however else it can be labelled, defending has been clear for everyone to see. And it desperately needs fixing.
United have not recorded a single clean sheet in the Premier League this campaign whilst conceding 24 – a total only Norwich City have outperformed, and that’s factoring in their 7-0 defeat away at Chelsea.
On average, that works out at shipping more than two goals per game. They’ve also given away five penalties. Those are stats you can see with the naked eye. Indeed, it gets way worse if you delve deeper.
Howe’s defensive record during his last two seasons at Bournemouth might send a few shivers, but that isn’t to say it’ll be the same on Tyneside.
In 2018/19, the Cherries conceded 70 league goals in finishing 14th. A year later, that dropped marginally to 65 as Howe suffered relegation.
Howe is known to be a meticulous manager, and he’ll need to come up with a plan of shoring up the defence.
Get the most out of the attackers
Bruce often spoke about “getting the balance right” between defence and attack but never did master it.
With players such as Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin fit and firing, lack of goals won’t be an issue – as shown by the 12 scored so far.
Saint-Maximin has looked a bit lost in recent weeks. Joe Willock, who scored seven goals in seven consecutive games last season, has been a shadow of that player.
Ignore the £40million price tag and maybe Joelinton can be saved too. The Brazillian has shown promise in glimpses, but never consistently.
On paper, Newcastle have more than enough on paper, both offensively and defensively but at the moment, they aren’t showing it.
Howe needs time but unfortunately, due to the club’s position in the Premier League table – he doesn’t have a lot.
Newcastle can’t afford to fall further adrift before Howe fully settles in, which already makes Brentford a must-win.
The club needs a new manager bounce. Such a thing does exist.