Newcastle’s hotseat - Eddie Howe’s poisoned chalice
By Musaab Samadi
When the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund took 80% ownership of Newcastle United earlier this season it signalled a new beginning for the Magpies.
Their supporters have been through thick and thin with Mike Ashley at the helm in recent years but the new owners came in, backed by a staggering £700 billion.
Steve Bruce headed for the exits in November and ex-Bournemouth supremo Eddie Howe was subsequently given the reins.
Newcastle did continue their dire run of form in the Premier League but they finally grabbed that illusive win when they defeated fellow strugglers Burnley 1-0 at St James’ Park on 4 December.
It was a huge weight off the shoulders of the players as they moved off the foot of the table even though their record stood at one win, seven draws and seven defeats from their first 15 games.
"St. James Park - Newcastle United FC" by Prashant Menon is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
And Howe knew it was important for his players to get a win under their belts. He believes the psychological aspect is crucial in the game and that is something he wants to get right with his squad.
“I’m a firm believer in psychology. It’s so important for professional athletes and in team sports,” said Howe.
“You have to take to the pitch believing you can win. Sometimes, you have to actually win to believe it, to feel it.
“We’ve done lots of psychological work with the players. There’s probably not one thing. It’s a combination of lots of things and I’ve always worked that way to try and get the group to think in a certain way, to believe in certain things, to highlight the power and importance of certain themes that we’re trying to get into them.”
The opportunities are endless for Newcastle United but deep in the relegation mire the pressure remains very much on, for Howe and his players.
Stefan de Vrij, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Aaron Ramsey, Dele Alli, Adama Traore, Ross Barkley, Nathan Ake, James Tarkowski and Dean Handerson have all been heavily linked with moves to St James’ Park in the January transfer window.
But if Newcastle continue to stagnate around the bottom of the Premier League table, it will make it a much more difficult proposition for Howe to attract top names to his club.
Relegation is almost unthinkable for Newcastle right now although it would give them the opportunity to regroup do a complete clear out and build foundations for the future.
But if Newcastle remain in the relegation zone heading into 2022 it’s likely the pressure will continue to mount of Howe and it’s unlikely he would be in the hotseat going into another season.
If Howe can mastermind a fight back and then bring in the reinforcements in January, Newcastle will surely turn things around and end the season with a mid-table finish.
However when you look at the fixture list it doesn’t make for pleasant viewing, Newcastle have tough games to come against Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Everton before the transfer window opens.
If they don’t pick up points along the way it could be a short-lived stint for Howe in the north-east.