Why Eddie Howe should win Premier League Manager of the Season ahead of Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp – Newcastle United opinion
Just days after Newcastle United secured Premier League survival, Eddie Howe was recognised with a Manager of the Season nomination.
Thomas Frank’s efforts with Brentford in their debut Premier League season have also been rewarded with a nomination while Crystal Palace’s Patrick Viera has also been given the nod for continuing the Eagles’ streak of mid-table finishes.
Each of the last seven winners of the award have been reserved for the manager who lifted the Premier League title at the end of the season. It’s hard to argue against that logic, but it is about time those who over-perform and upset the odds get some recognition.
Newcastle United star Bruno Guimaraes issues cryptic six-word message amid Real Madrid link
Supercomputer predicts surprising Premier League finishes for Newcastle United, Manchester United, Leeds United and co
Eddie Howe's sobering Newcastle United transfer response to Joao Pedro bid rejected by Watford
Newcastle United's Dan Burn says what many people are thinking about Manchester City right now
‘Here to stay’ – Pep Guardiola on Newcastle United ‘project’ and ‘surprise’ lack of spending
Guardiola is expected to win the league with Manchester City – the best and most expensive team. As great a manager as he is, the Spaniard has done nothing this season to defy those expectations and really merit a fourth Manager of the Season win in five years.
It’s a similar case with Klopp and Liverpool. Although, should Liverpool manage to pip City to the title, it would be hard to argue against the Reds’ boss getting the award having clawed back a 12 point deficit.
But that is a purely hypothetical situation and voting closes at 6pm tonight (May 16). Meanwhile, Howe has already achieved his goal of securing survival for Newcastle with two games to spare.
Any Newcastle fan hearing those words back in December could only assume a minor miracle had happened as the side looked dead and buried. With just one win in their opening 20 games, Newcastle were staring a third Premier League relegation in the face and remained in the bottom three until February.
When Howe took charge in November, United hadn’t won a single game and that run would continue until a 1-0 victory over relegation rivals Burnley at St James's Park on matchday 15.
No team had ever survived in the Premier League after failing to win any of their opening 14 games, yet Howe and Newcastle have been able to do it with aplomb.
A run of 10 wins from 14 matches between February and April saw The Magpies fly out of the bottom three and into the top half of the Premier League table.
Although recent results have seen them slide back down, Howe’s unprecedented achievement makes him a serious contender for the Manager of the Season accolade.
He’s not just defied the odds, he's done something no other manager has done before him. And it should be commended.
But the emphatic nature of the turnaround and relative ease in which Newcastle have secured survival could see it overlooked as a ‘great escape’ by a wider audience. If anything, it was too great and nowhere near dramatic enough as Newcastle have been able to head into their final run of games safe in the knowledge they'll be playing Premier League football next season.
Predictably, the January spending will be used as a case to downplay Howe’s achievements.
While Kieran Trippier and Bruno Guimaraes can be considered ‘elite’ level signings for Newcastle. Both have helped give the side an edge in matches, but Trippier has only started four league games due to injury and Guimaraes has only made nine starts.
Dan Burn, Matt Targett and Chris Wood have also made an impact in their own way. But all three would have warranted little fuss had they arrived under the previous owner – the only fuss would have been the disbelief from Newcastle fans that Mike Ashley was spending money.
And Howe hasn’t been given enough credit for how he helped Newcastle navigate a difficult January window without a director of football in place. In many ways, Howe took up that role himself and identified and acquired key targets alongside Steve Nickson.
Newcastle will remain a target due to their owners, but you can’t take anything away from what Howe has done on and off the pitch since he arrived.
Almost every Newcastle player has pointed to Howe’s arrival, the improved tactics and more intense training that came with it as one of the biggest factors behind the club’s impressive turnaround.
When Howe isn’t working with his players at the training ground, he’s camped in his office, analysing, researching and striving to improve the side.
Days off have been few and far between, even the international breaks have been spent at warm-weather training camps with a focus on fitness, tactics and team bonding.
And the hard work has certainly paid off with Newcastle confirming survival – but it’s not just that.
In Howe’s brief tenure in charge, Newcastle have gone on a nine game unbeaten run in the Premier League, their longest in over a decade.
Before Howe, Newcastle had never beaten Brighton in the Premier League, had won just two out of 28 games at Southampton, had never kept a clean sheet against Wolves and hadn’t beaten Leicester at St James’s Park since 2014.
Yet in the space of little over a month, Newcastle managed to do all of those.
The 44-year-old’s Premier League record at Newcastle (before Arsenal) stands at 11 wins, five draws and nine defeats from 25 games in charge. While that may not look particularly impressive alongside the likes of Klopp and Guardiola, his Newcastle Premier League win percentage of 44-per-cent is bettered only by Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson.
The tables are turning on Tyneside and the manager, the owners and the Toon Army are as united as they’ve been in a long, long time – it’s a powerful combination.
The Premier League could play it safe by naming Klopp or Guardiola Manager of the Season when it is announced on May 24. But when you look closer, Howe is the obvious choice.