Newcastle United are more than 'ticking along' under Eddie Howe

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Steve Bruce talked a lot about “respect” during his time at Newcastle United.

Bruce wanted it, but didn’t get quite enough of it. Speaking in January last year during an 11-game winless run, then-United head coach Bruce said: “For me, I’ve got no problem with criticism.

“It’s the constant criticism of the club, and when it comes to ridicule, then I think there should be a little bit more respect. We accept criticism. We’re getting beat. It’s the Premier League.

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"I give up my time, and I give them respect to speak to them (the media). Yes, they can be pretty damning. We all accept that, but have a little bit of respect.”

The thing is, Bruce wasn’t always respectful in his dealings with the media – or even to some of his managerial colleagues. A week or so earlier, Bruce had rounded on one local newspaper after Eddie Howe had been mentioned as a possible managerial successor.

Bruce dismissed Howe, out of work at the time, as “a manager that got a team relegated last year”.

"Some of it (criticism) needs to be more measured,” said Bruce. "I give respect. When I see polls, the next manager and the fella from Bournemouth (Howe), I find it disrespectful. Your paper was gunning for a manager that got a team relegated last year."

That same manager saved a team from relegation this year.

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And last night's 2-0 win over Arsenal capped a remarkable turnaround on home turf. Visiting manager Mikel Arteta said that United were “100 times better than us in every department – from beginning to end” – and he wasn’t much of an exaggeration.

Yet the team, winless after 14 games, was at a low ebb when Howe was appointed.

The club was 19th in the Premier League with five points when Howe took over in November a few weeks after Bruce’s departure. Yet, today, the club is 12th in the Premier League with 46 points. Howe’s Premier League points percentage at Newcastle (52.5%) is bettered only by Kevin Keegan (61.5%) and the late, great Sir Bobby Robson (53.2%).

Yes, January’s spend helped, but the transformation is as much about coaching as cash.

And United are more than ticking along under Howe, who’s getting the respect he deserves from fans.