Eddie Howe Channelling Diego Simeone With Newcastle's Antics On And Off The Ball

Howe studied Simeone and Atletico Madrid during his time out of game before getting the Newcastle job
08:00, 03 Feb 2023

Newcastle United are continually evolving under the leadership of Eddie Howe and have undergone an incredible transformation in what feels like the blink of an eye.

Not only have we seen flashes of quality in their play but the Magpies have become so compact and physical that they are tough to break down, showing a much grittier side to their game in the process.

Howe’s stock as a coach has risen dramatically since he took the reins at St James’ Park in November 2021 and, over a year into the job, he is showing his pedigree to reach new heights, something that didn’t seem possible when he was in charge of AFC Bournemouth despite working wonders there too.

Something has changed drastically in Howe’s way of thinking when it comes to the beautiful game, perhaps a result of the 15 months he spent out of it. Between leaving the Cherries and joining Newcastle he spent a lot of time in Madrid, where he studied Diego Simeone and his notoriously uncompromising Atletico side intensely.


Simeone and his men have been renowned for their unchivalrous antics on the field over the years and their ‘unattractive’ style of play. The Argentine will have no complaints because his methods have yielded exceptional results in terms of silverware. Simeone has collected two La Liga titles, two Europa League titles, two UEFA Super Cups and one Supercopa de Espana - while also guiding Atletico to two Champions League finals along the way. 

He is someone who came in to a club having to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona at a time when both boasted possibly the best sides in their history. And while you can argue it is different for Howe, due to the wealth of Newcastle's new owners, their team isn’t currently filled with superstars and yet they are competing with the elite of the Premier League.

This is a season which has been full of surprising twists in England’s top flight, but Newcastle’s premature emergence tops the lot. 

Diego Simeone
Diego Simeone

There is something about Howe’s tactics and his players' behaviour that we didn't see during his tenure with Bournemouth. His Newcastle players have consistently shown that, even with their sometimes flashy phases of play, they are not afraid to get stuck in out of possession. 

Brazilian midfielders Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton are the greatest examples of this never-say-die mantra. Both are wired to chase down the ball when out of possession, both love to get involved in 50/50 challenges and they always let their opponents know that they are there with their new-found aggression; as we saw with Guimaraes’ red card against Southampton on Tuesday and Joelinton's yellow card tally this campaign (seven - the joint highest in the Premier League).

We now see Newcastle swarming the opposition when trying to get the ball back, a trait which Atletico have honed to their benefit over the last decade. While Simeone’s side have not been the prettiest of sides in the modern age, there is a certain beauty to what they have accomplished, particularly as their 2013-14 La Liga triumph came at a time when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were at the height of their powers at Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

We are getting used to seeing a nasty streak from the Magpies as they begin to establish themselves as part of the English football elite and kick-start what is inevitably going to be a new era. Howe himself has stated: “We're not here to be popular, we are here to compete.”

We have also seen some feistiness from Howe himself, such as in a touchline spat with Mikel Arteta in Newcastle’s goalless draw with Arsenal at the Emirates in January. There has been so much so-called 's**thousery' from the side across the pitch. Examples include club captain Jamaal Lascelles twice getting booked while not even on the pitch, Callum Wilson scuffing the penalty spot before Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic double-kicked from 12 yards, and Jacob Murphy waving off Southampton’s Duje Caleta-Car after the latter was sent off in their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg. 

It is the sort of behaviour that will make rival supporters' blood boil, but there's something unquestionably admirable about this edgier outfit which Howe is guiding. Newcastle fans certainly won't be complaining because, like with Simeone's Colchoneros over the years, the results of such characteristics have been fruitful and have guided the Toon Army to their first domestic final since 1999 as well as putting them on track for a top-four finish.

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