Eddie Howe knew exactly what he wanted from Wood when the striker joined Newcastle United in January. The club signed Wood from Burnley for £25million after Callum Wilson suffered an injury in late December that would keep him out for several months.
Howe needed the 30-year-old to quickly settle at the club – and understand his new role. Wood “grasped the tactical importance of the position” in his meetings with Howe – and results followed.
Newcastle beat Leeds United 1-0 at Elland Road on what was his second appearance, and that fixture is seen as a “turning-point game” by Howe.
Important goals against Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers followed, and the club, 17th when Wood arrived, is now 13th in the Premier League table with two games left to play.
Asked about Wood’s influence, United’s head coach said: “Huge contribution, huge. Again, I look back to the Leeds game, a turning-point game for us. I thought Chris was magnificent in every aspect in terms of helping the team.
“He’s someone that immediately grasped the tactical importance of the position. So I would have regular meetings with him, and what I wanted him to deliver tactically.
“I would never have to tell him twice. Whatever I told him, straight away he’d go and deliver it. That comes with his experience at the various clubs he’s played for.
“And then he enabled us to take the pressure off certain situations, goal kicks, for us in the sense that when we were battling relegation, and the difficult position that we found ourselves in, I wanted to make the game very simple for the players, and not too complex. Chris enabled us to do that.
“I just think his general, all-round leadership has been very good. So he’s a vocal presence in the changing room.
“He’s a support if things aren’t going well. You can hear him vocally if things are going well. He’s a galvaniser of those around him.
“He’s given the team a lot, and he’s scored a couple of key goals for us as well, so let’s not forget those. We’re really pleased with him and the impact he’s made.”
Meanwhile, Wilson made his comeback from injury in last weekend’s 5-0 loss to Premier League leaders Manchester City.