Newcastle United make smart 'long-term' contract move
Gareth Southgate’s considering his future in the wake of England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to France last weekend.
And the Football Association will be looking at possible alternatives in case Southgate decides that it’s time for a change after more than six years in the post.
The issue for Newcastle United is that Eddie Howe is the best-performing English manager in the Premier League so far this season – and the 44-year-old would certainly interest the Football Association (FA) should Southgate step down.
Howe, backed by the club’s new owners, has transformed the team in a little over a year. Newcastle are third in the division – and two points behind champions Manchester City – with 15 games played.
And losing Howe, recruited last November when the club was 19th in the top flight, is unthinkable.
Thankfully, the club had thought about the unthinkable in the summer. Howe, 10/1 with bookmakers to succeed Southgate, signed a new “long-term” contract in August, and there’s no clause allowing him to leave the job to take charge of the England team.
United sporting director Dan Ashworth addressed the speculation over Howe being a potential successor to Southgate earlier this season.
Speaking in October, Howe said: "From a club point of view, I’d like to think we’ve done everything we can with Eddie and his staff. We’ve given Eddie and his staff a long-term deal. So we’ve shown our support to him – and how much we think of him.
"Things are in a good place, and I’d sincerely hope and be confident he'd stay. But I can't speak for Eddie, and I can't speak for the FA about whether Gareth stays until 2024, or whether there’ll be a vacancy, or whether Gareth stays beyond that.
"Whether there’s vacancy, or whether Eddie’s on their list, I can't speak for that.
"All we can do is control the controllables – and make sure Eddie gets the support around him that gives him every chance of succeeding."
Asked if there was a clause in the deal allowing Howe to leave for the England job, Ashworth said: "No. We have done everything we can from a contractual point of view that you'd do for a manager to protect the club."
“Gareth’s done an incredible job,” said Howe. “I‘ve been lucky enough to go in and see him work, and I have a lot of time for him and Steve Holland. You have to remember where England were before he took over, and what he has done for the country.
“I never say never, never say ‘no, it won’t be something I’m interested in’. But, in the short term, it’s not on my radar at all. It’s all Newcastle – and trying to make this team better.”
Howe went on to make it clear that, for the moment, club management is where he wants to be.
“I have always said I love the day-to-day coaching, love being with the players on the training ground. International football, you get that taken away for long periods,” said Howe. “At this moment in my life, that’s not something I want to do.”