Jose Enrique reveals why he's certain Newcastle United will stay up
Jose Enrique knows what kind of players Eddie Howe likes to sign – and he also knows what it takes to succeed at Newcastle United.
And Enrique’s confident that the club, already strengthened by the arrivals of Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood, can stay up this season – if it manages to complete its transfer business.
The former Newcastle defender, now a football agent, got to know Howe when one of his clients joined Bournemouth during Howe’s time at the South Coast club.
“They went for the right manager,” said Enrique, speaking to the Gazette in an interview arranged by Freebets.com. “I know Eddie quite well, because actually we did a transfer to Bournemouth when he was there.
“Everyone knows what he did at Bournemouth. Young manager. He’s the kind of manager that improves the players as well. He’s done in at Bournemouth. You’re under a different kind of pressure at Newcastle now.
“But I believe he’s the right choice, and I really believe Newcastle is going to stay (up). You in Newcastle might not be very positive, but I’m very, very positive. I think it’s difficult, don’t get me wrong.
“They signed Trippier and Chris Wood already. I think they really, really want to stay in the league. I don’t think they will go down.”
The club, which is now 80%-owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund late last year, is 18th in the Premier League – and two points adrift of safety – following last weekend’s 1-0 win over Leeds United.
Enrique left Newcastle and joined Liverpool in the summer of 2011 after a railing against the club’s ownership in a series of tweets.
“The club is letting major players go,” he tweeted. “The club is never going to fight to be in the top six if it keeps up this policy.”
United finished fifth that season, that finish was high-water mark of Mike Ashley’s ownership, but Enrique was right about the longer-term direction of the club, which sank into the Championship five years after his departure.
“For me, it’s really sad, as this situation has been since I left the the club, really,” said Enrique. “I still feel it wasn’t right what I did when I left, because players shouldn’t talk to the press the way I did.
“But, obviously, I did it for the fans, to explain why I left. At the end, I wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t right to do it.
“Mike Ashley didn’t want to spend on the club. The club went down eventually. Rafa (Benitez) put them up in the Premier League, and they’ve been fighting to stay in the league.
It’s a club that, at least, should try to get in the top six, top four. But definitely, you have to at least be a top 10 team in the Premier League. You cannot be fighting relegation every single year.
“Luckily, Mike Ashley is gone now. I believe they are doing things right. They haven’t gone for players who will come just for the money. They’ve gone for players that are hungry.”
Some of Howe’s predecessors at United didn’t have full control over transfers, and there was, at times, a disconnect between the type of player needed at the club – and the signings that arrived on Tyneside.
And Enrique believes the input of Howe into the recruitment is all-important as the club seeks to recruit players who can fit into the team – and the dressing room.
Howe was known at Bournemouth for doing extensive homework on signings, and he is again taking this approach at Newcastle.
The club, which first approached Unai Emery for the managerial role following Steve Bruce’s departure, has been linked with some high-profile names since the takeover.
So far, Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood have arrived from Atletico Madrid and Burnley respectively.
“Listen, maybe some fans, as soon as they heard Saudis are coming, they think ‘(Erling) Haaland, (Kylian) Mbappe’,” said the 36-year-old. “It’s not real.
"You went for (Unai) Emery, that was public. He’s won trophies, has done well in the Premier League. He was the right choice as well. He’s a very, very good manager.
"Then you went to Howe, who’s a legend at Bournemouth. He put them from League Two to the Premier League. Now he’s at a club which can invest in players, but in players that he wants as well.
"That’s what I like. Trippier, who he knows very, very well. Chris Wood, who he knows very well from the Premier League as well.
"They put Eddie there, and they are listening to Eddie. Eddie’s a manager who I believe can do really well at the club.”
United, pursuing a number of deals in the final days of the transfer window, are in a position to offer attractive contracts to players, especially those based overseas. However, Enrique believes the players that Newcastle are targeting aren’t just coming for the money.
“I’m going to be honest,” said Enrique. “Why did Diego Carlos want to come to Newcastle? It’s because they put a massive contract on the table. That’s how you build a team, taking players from big teams by paying them more.
"But, at the same time, it’s good, because they are players that are hungry, even if they are paying more. Trippier knows Newcastle very, very well. He wants to do something with this club. They are there to do well, not just for the money. That’s what I like about this kind of player.”
Asked why he’s so confident about United’s prospects for the second-half of the campaign, Enrique said: “Signings will help. I also think he’s going to improve every single player.
"You have signed one of the best right-backs in La Liga. You can see they want to improve the squad. They have the right ideas.
"That’s why I’m very positive. It’s not easy, but I believe they’re going for the right players.”