From Brentford chaos to a structured calm - Eddie Howe’s transformed Newcastle United
It started with chaos, but Eddie Howe and his team have brought calm to the club - one that means supporters can now enjoy the World Cup with few club worries.
It was Jason Tindall that oversaw Howe’s first game in charge of the Magpies, with a positive Covid-19 result denying Howe the chance to appear on the touchline for his unveiling to the crowd. Brentford were the opponents then - and what followed was a breathless 90 minutes.
It was clear from that game just what type of football Howe wanted to implement with the team, so used to a passive approach under his predecessor, keen to press and impose themselves on their opponents. Unsurprisingly with less than a fortnight in the job, it didn’t go all to plan for Newcastle against a well drilled Brentford side.
Howe, who watched on from a hotel room, described the game as something he ‘never wanted to experience again’: “It was a really unique experience, something I never want to experience again, to be honest,” said Howe.
“You’ve got a feeling of control, but I had no control at the same time, because I was detached from the game.”
In truth, that was a nice summation of the game with Newcastle never seeming to be in control of proceedings. However, one year on, and that has all changed.
Heading into the World Cup break, Newcastle sit pretty in third place and are deservedly in the mix for a potential European place. Usually, heading into major tournaments there is a great ‘clamour’ for something that the media and fans can sink their teeth into.
And usually around this time of year, there is a clamour on Tyneside for the club to spend in January or for a change to be made to halt a slide towards the wrong end of the table. Not this time around.
The upcoming transfer window offers Newcastle an opportunity, rather than a last chance saloon. They can act if they choose to, with any additions likely to strengthen their claim for a European spot, or, they can opt to save money for another assault in the summer, safe in the knowledge that their fantastic start to the season means they should, barring a second-half of the season collapse, finish in a decent position in the league.
But unlike previous years, there will be no panicking from the club. No deals allowed to drag on and on until the dying embers just to try and save a few pennies.
The club, much like their on-field fortunes, will act calmly and limit the chaos. Their behind the scenes structure is beginning to take shape with a clear vision implemented from top to bottom.
Chaos for those 90 minutes against Brentford was fun and a reminder to long-suffering fans that football should and could be fun. After a brief step back, one that was necessary to ensure survival last campaign, the football has returned to being fun again, but it is being implemented in a calm structure - one that has taken shape in a whirlwind of a 12 month period.