Newcastle United insider makes ‘ahead of schedule’ admission after early season ‘grumbles’
In 2022, Newcastle have moved out of relegation danger and now find themselves competing for a Champions League place as they sit third after 15 matches. And with United now preparing to return to competitive action, Harper has praised the job head coach Eddie Howe and his players have done under new ownership.
The former Newcastle goalkeeper has inside experience working at the club as academy manager under the ownership of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Discussing the progress made in 2022, he said: “We're ahead of schedule, last year what the manager and his staff did was incredible.
"The turnaround, the effort, the commitment, the work rate. And somebody said something to me which resonated with me about the last [Premier League] game. It kicked off between the players at the end of that Chelsea game and we'd have won the fight as well. It's been a long time since that would have been the case!”
Harper played 199 times for Newcastle over 20 seasons and featured in the club’s most recent Champions League campaign back in the 2002-03 season. And with the club currently enjoying its best start to a Premier League season this century, the 47-year-old has urged fans to appreciate the ‘good times’.
“The good times, I've been fortunate enough to play in a couple of Champions League games for the club but I think it's important that we've all seen the bipolar nature of the club and to let the past go, appreciate where we are,” Harper said during an NUST talk.
“We were drawing against Bournemouth not long ago and there were some grumbles. I was thinking 'let's not go there, let's appreciate where we are and how well everybody is doing at the club'.
"The club fuels the city and the whole city is feeding off that and running on that real high energy, high octane vibe and long may it continue.
"The manager and the ownership, what they're doing at the moment and how they're organically growing the club and that structure in place but credit must go with the manager. What a tune he's getting out of these players!”