New Newcastle United Manager Eddie Howe: Overrated Or Underappreciated?

Is the former Bournemouth manager the right man to lead Newcastle forward?
15:03, 08 Nov 2021

Eddie Howe is back in the dugout after over a year out of the game, having taken charge of a Newcastle United side that is mired in a relegation battle, despite their new found wealth off the pitch. Make no mistake, this side is one of the worst in the Premier League and Howe faces a big task to keep them up, something he ultimately failed to do with Bournemouth in 2019/20.

That relegation has put a blot on an otherwise unblemished CV. His work on the south coast made him a footballing legend at Dean Court, with the job he did in that first season in League Two the stuff of footballing folklore. Having been the club’s Centre of Excellence manager, he took caretaker charge of the club he made over 250 appearances for as a player, and saved them from relegation. 

Having been handed a 17 point deduction for entering administration, Howe inspired his side to make up the seven point deficit between them and their relegation rivals in his very first job as a manager. The club, having been taken over in 2009 never looked back from that moment and it’s fair to say he took to the role like a duck to water - the very next season, his first full one in charge, Howe led them to promotion into League One. 

Bournemouth’s rise from League Two to the Premier League under Howe is a remarkable tale, but perhaps what is more telling of his managerial ability is the two years he spent at Burnley, having been tempted away by the then-Championship side. He finished eighth and then 13th in the second tier, but as he gained valuable experience elsewhere, Bournemouth’s upward trajectory slightly stagnated. 

A remarkable first season at League One level saw them lose on penalties in the play-off semi-final, before a 13th place finish under Lee Bradbury and Paul Groves saw Howe tempted back to the club to continue the rise. Promotion to the Championship was followed by sustained investment, which saw the club win the league in 2015. 

The five successive years he kept Bournemouth in the Premier League were an undoubted success, but Newcastle fans have rightly questioned some of the transfers he made during his time on the south coast. Given the club invested heavily for its size in the top flight, some of their transfer dealings were strange to say the least. 

He brought in Jefferson Lerma for a club record fee of £25m while he also spent £19m on Dominic Solanke and £16m on Jordon Ibe. From the club’s biggest purchases, only Nathan Ake (brought in for £20m) and Arnaut Danjuma returned a profit, which does raise concerns on whether he is the right man to be handed a fairly large transfer fund to drag Newcastle out of danger. 

Keeping Bournemouth in the Premier League was a sizable achievement but he was given decent backing and the concerns for Newcastle fans extend to his ability to whip a defence into shape. Every single season he was in the top flight with Bournemouth, his team conceded at least 60 goals.

His sides may be known for their attacking play, and he is sure to get the best out of the likes of Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson, but given they have already conceded 24 goals, their defence is the first area that needs improvement. 

Howe is a manager who has proved himself at the Vitality Stadium. He took the club on an amazing journey, to new heights and even kept them in the Premier League for five seasons, until eventually they lost their way. However, Newcastle fans are right to be cautious. His dealings in the transfer market are far from ideal, and he is not a coach that will sure up a defence that is leaking goals, but he can get the best out of their attacking talent. One thing is for certain, won’t be boring up in the north east. 

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