The day Amanda Staveley's Newcastle United were turned down – and what happened next

A year ago today, Unai Emery made a phone call which had big implications for Newcastle United.

The night before, Emery’s Villarreal team had beaten Young Boys 2-0 in a Champions League fixture.

In his post-match press conference at the Estadio de la Ceramica, Emery was asked about an approach from relegation-threatened Newcastle.

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"They have shown interest – and I have not said no," said Emery.

Emery spoke to Villarreal owner Fernando Roig the following morning and told him that he had now said no to the Premier League club, which had been taken over the previous month by a consortium led by Amanda Staveley. He later said that it was not the “right moment” to leave.

At the time, the decision was met with disappointment on Tyneside. However, there was a different reaction in the Howe household.

Eddie Howe, out of work since leaving Bournemouth at the end of the 2019/20 season, had “resigned himself” to missing out on the job.

Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley.

“The moment I found out it was myself and Unai going for the job, I sort of resigned myself that it wasn’t going to be mine for obvious reasons,” said Howe.

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“You look at his track record, and the clubs that he’s managed. I was quite relaxed about the situation, because I’m a believer in fate. Certain things happening for a reason.

"If it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be. I couldn’t get too down about it, while there was also a sense of huge disappointment because I felt, for me, Newcastle was the one that I wanted.

“Then it happened very quickly – and things changed. That’s where the fate part comes around – and I was only too happy to take the opportunity.”

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery turned Newcastle United down last year.
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Howe had had a productive spell out of management. He had visited a number of clubs, including Atletico Madrid, to study the methods of their coaches, and had also digitised his training sessions in readiness for a return to the dugout.

The 44-year-old said: “You go from thinking what could have been to … well, I won’t swear!

“But then the reality of the situation is that you’re going into a club in desperate need of points in a relegation battle. So, there’s an immediate realisation that you have to start work. You’re in at the deep end, you have to do well.”

Howe quickly went into “work mode” after Emery, now in charge of Aston Villa, opted to stay at Villarreal.

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Newcastle United Eddie Howe was appointed almost a year ago.

“You go into work mode,” said Howe. “There are a thousand thoughts going through your head. Your mentality changes. I become a different person. My wife said goodbye to me that morning, but she’s seen it before, I’m tunnel vision.”

A year later, United are fourth in the Premier League – and tipped for a European place.

And Howe still feels that he’s only just starting at the club.

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"Time flies,” said Howe. “It's incredible to think, as the months have ticked by, that it's nearly a year for me here. We’ve enjoyed it, but it's gone so quickly.

"I do feel there's an element of just starting with the team. We have got so much more to achieve and do, but, probably, if I'm sat here in another year's time, I'll be saying the same thing."