Eddie Howe's revealing Newcastle United aim
Six years and five months, to be precise.
Eddie Howe’s side beat Brentford 5-1 on Saturday to climb up to fifth place in the Premier League.
And Bruno Guimaraes, the poster boy of Howe’s new-look team, put in a five-year performance in midfield a day after the club celebrated the first anniversary of last year’s takeover.
The celebrations continued thanks to the performance of Howe’s team.
A year ago, the club was 19th in the Premier League and without a win – and it would drop a place after Howe’s first game in charge.
Rock bottom, however, seems a long time ago now, and the Brentford win, which followed a 4-1 success over Fulham at Craven Cottage a week earlier, brought back memories of the buccaneering teams put together by Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson in the 1990s and 2000s respectively.
For Howe, those days are the benchmark. United’s head coach wants his team to entertain and score goals, especially on home turf.
“That’s the challenge,” said Howe. “There’s no comparisons from me to that, I think we’ve got a lot to improve. But the intention is there, and the will is there to do well, entertain, score goals and play the type of football that hopefully everyone wants to come and see.
“Ultimately, though, we’re in a results business, and we do need to win first. That’s the aim in every game, regardless of who we play, try to build the mentality that we want to be winners.
“Days like today will help that inner confidence we need, but we know we’ve got tough tests to come.”
Newcastle look to be well prepared for those tests. Howe, helped by a much-needed transfer spend in the past two windows, has turned a team which lacked an identity into a fiercely-competitive team which plays on the front foot and presses high up the pitch.
Importantly, United, under Howe, can match teams technically as well as physically.
Still, they had gone into the game under pressure after three successive home draws, and Howe and his players needed a win.
“I knew this was going to be an important result for us,” said Howe. “It’s been a while since we won here, and we want that feeling of the players really wanting to play here.
"I think that only comes from winning. I don’t think you can have that feeling without the actual winning. I think we performed really well against Crystal Palace, and were devastated not to win that game.
"There was maybe a bit of a hangover then into the Bournemouth game, but the good thing is we didn’t lose those games, and responded really well with some good goals today that we possibly deserved in the other games.”
Howe, though, still wasn’t happy with everything he saw from his team.
“There’s definitely more to come,” said Howe. “There were elements of our game today we weren’t happy with, but that will always be the case under my eye because I want perfection.”
Perfection, of course, is unattainable, but the progress being made at the club is there for all to see.