Eddie Howe’s revealing first ‘big’ interview at Newcastle United

Eddie Howe spoke a lot about the Newcastle United job after taking charge at the club.
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Howe addressed the challenges ahead of him following his appointment as head coach during this month’s international break.

“It is all about the short-term, and the position of the team,” said Howe in his first press conference. “Obviously, we need to try and address that very quickly, and move up the league and avoid relegation. I will give 100% every single day to try and bring success to Newcastle.”

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However, Howe – who succeeded Steve Bruce at St James’s Park – spoke less about himself after taking the job aged just 43.

Howe spoke to the club’s matchday programme for its “The Big Interview” feature for last weekend’s home game against Brentford, and the former Bournemouth manager made some revealing comments as he reflected on his coaching journey.

An early start

Howe started young. He moved took on coaching responsibilities in his late 20s before he hung up his boots at Bournemouth, and he was appointed as the club’s manager aged 31 in 2009.

Amersham-born Howe’s travel sickness, inadvertently, got him thinking more the coaching side of the game, with long hours sat next to then-manager Sean O’Driscoll paying dividends.

Eddie Howe.Eddie Howe.
Eddie Howe.
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"I used to get travel sick, sitting on the back of the bus, and feel ill," said Howe, who is isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 before the Brentford game, which ended 3-3. "Bear in mind Bournemouth to most away grounds on a coach is four, five, six hours. This is the day before a game. There were lots of times when I was actually sick.

"So I asked the manager 'can I sit at the front next to you? This isn't doing me any good'. He said 'yeah, sure, no problem'. And I actually enjoyed it!

“I didn't say this to my team-mates at the time. You'd get stick, of course, but, actually, we'd end up talking football, the way we'd set up the next day, team selection. He'd give me psychology books he was reading.

"He really opened up on a lot of his ways of working and for me, it was hugely educational. I preferred to sit at the front than the back, because I was learning, probably without knowing it at the time."

Newcastle United's programme for the Brentford game.Newcastle United's programme for the Brentford game.
Newcastle United's programme for the Brentford game.

The changing man

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Howe, by his own admission, is an introvert. But he’s far from introverted on the training pitch, and he can change his demeanour for dealings with players.

"I'd say in most situations, I'm introverted," said Howe. "But I think I'm able now to change my personality when needed. Don't get me wrong, in the right environment, I can have a laugh and enjoy my life with my friends and family.

"But the training pitch is where I come alive. In the changing room, again, I'm able to change my personality for what the players need. That can be in various ways with how you address people.

Eddie Howe in 2009.Eddie Howe in 2009.
Eddie Howe in 2009.

“But you can't change you as a person. I am, and always will be, the same type of person."

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Clips of Howe working with United’s players on the training pitch quickly went viral after they were posted on social media by the club.

Howe was energetic and enthusiastic as he showed the players what he wanted from them on day one, sprinting in one clip.

"It's not a criticism (of what went on before his arrival) – it's just a different type of training," said Howe.

Get the message

Howe didn’t arrive alone at the club. He brought Jason Tindall, Stephen Purches, Simon Weatherstone and Dan Hodges with him to St James’s Park.

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The quartet all worked with Howe at Bournemouth, and his arrival was belatedly confirmed once everything was in place for them to follow him to Tyneside.

Howe had talked to Celtic in the summer, but he wasn’t able to take all his former staff to Celtic Park, so he didn’t make the move.

This time, Howe was able to get the gang back together – and he believes they will help him work quicker.

Asked about the importance of his staff, Howe said: "They're very, very good at their jobs. They know me, we have a relationship and we have a trust, and that trust’s absolutely crucial.

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“When you go to a new club, and you want to get your message to your players as quickly as you can, if you have five of you, you're going to get that message across five times quicker."

Dignified and respectful

Howe, of course, is used to the demands of Premier League management, having been in charge of Bournemouth for 190 top-flight fixtures.

However, the Newcastle job is even more demanding.

Howe, for his part, is determined to be respectful, and maintain his “dignity”, as he attempts to steer the winless club, which is bottom of the Premier League with six points from 12 games, away from relegation trouble.

"I understand the demands that are going to come with this job,” said Howe. “I'm going in with my eyes very much open. That's not to say that there won't be times when I'll be emotional – I'm sure there will be. I'm a human being.

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"But, I think, I've learned in my time that you've got to ride the rough patches, you've got to go through them, absorb them, take them, take the criticism. I think as long as you can maintain your dignity, respect and continue to work as hard as you possibly can, that's all you can do."

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