What Graeme Jones said to Newcastle United's players after damning chant from fans
One wag on Twitter nailed it shortly before Eddie Howe arrived at the Amex Stadium.
They wrote before the game: “I am extremely excited for the moment in the game where the camera pans to Eddie Howe and say ‘if he didn’t already know the scale of the task he does now’ while he looks sombre.”
I was at yesterday’s 1-1 draw against Brighton and Hove Albion, so I don’t know if that, or something like it, was said by the BT Sport commentary team.
But, certainly, Howe, set to be appointed as Newcastle United’s new head coach, really did see the scale of the task before the break.
The team was awful for 45 minutes against who took the lead midway through the first half through a Leandro Trossard penalty.
Howe, sat with part-owner Amanda Staveley. Covered his mouth as he spoke with Jason Tindall, his former assistant at Bournemouth. Presumably, the pair won’t have been too surprised at what they saw given the club’s position in the Premier League.
In any case, Howe, known to be meticulous, will have studied the club’s season so far before heading to Sussex.
Winless Newcastle had hit rock bottom before kick-off time. Norwich City’s win over Brentford earlier in the day had seen the club propping up the Premier League table when Jamaal Lascelles led out the team at the Amex Stadium.
That result, however, wasn’t enough to keep Daniel Farke in his job at Carrow Road, as Norwich’s manager was dismissed hours after the club’s first win of the season.
United, certainly, need a win, any win. They had gone to Brighton knowing anything other than a victory would see the club record the worst start in its 129-year history, and it looked like being a long night when Ciaran Clark brought down Trossard midway through the first half.
United offered nothing on the ball, and the club’s 3,100-strong support, damningly, chanted “attack, attack, attack” at one point.
Things didn’t immediately improve after the break, though Brighton, it was clear, were not at their best.
There was an opportunity for United, and the team sensed it.
Allan Saint-Maximin livened up, and he played the ball to Matt Ritchie on the left. Ritchie delivered a deep cross, which was headed down by Clark at the far post. Isaac Hayden did the rest.
Newcastle, arguably, should have gone on to win the game.
Robert Sanchez, Brighton’s goalkeeper, was dismissed for bringing down Callum Wilson outside the box, and, having already made three substitutions, Graham Potter put Lewis Dunk in goal.
The frustration for United’s fans was that the team didn’t test Dunk in the final few minutes.
Yes, Howe saw the scale of the task, but he also saw a level of commitment that will have pleased him.
“I spoke to the boys at half-time and said ‘nobody’s going to help you – there’s only us who can help ourselves’,” said Jones. “The response is the most pleasing aspect of today’s performance. It’s easy to fracture in situations like this, but we, as a group, have not allowed it. Whoever comes in will inherit a healthy football club, pulling in the same direction.”
With that kind of attitude and application, the club, under Howe, has a chance of pulling away from trouble.