Midway through the 2021-22 Premier League season, Newcastle United were a club in shambles. At one point, the Magpies were 19th in the table, dangerously close to the threat of relegation.
Just a year later, Newcastle United are now third in the table, extending their unbeaten run in the Premier League to a club-record 15 games. Under new ownership and management, Newcastle United underwent a historic and rapid transformation that has managed to impress every ardent fan of the club.
As the Magpies look forward to clinching a spot in the UEFA Champions League next year, here’s a look at how the club transformed under Eddie Howe.
New ownership and management
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund took over the ownership of the Magpies in October 2021, a takeover that generated much controversy concerning the irregularities in the deal and the rise of Middle Eastern money in football clubs across Europe. The Premier League even decided to impose new financial controls on Newcastle United.
The new owners immediately brought in Eddie Howe as the club’s manager as the flailing club needed a new identity and direction. Eddie Howe brought in Jason Tindall, Stephen Purches, and Simon Weatherstone into the club’s coaching unit while retaining Graeme Jones and Simon Smith in their roles.
Eddie Howe had experience in helping Bournemouth climb up the English football pyramid with the Cherries reaching the Premier League under his stewardship.
The 45-year-old has been awarded the Manager of the Decade award for his time at Bournemouth, and Newcastle United’s new owners relied on him to execute a similar turnaround at St. James’ Park.
For the first few months of Eddie Howe’s tenure, nothing changed for the Magpies. They continued to suffer humiliating defeats, languishing at the bottom of the table.
But January 2022 proved to be the turning point, as a 1-0 victory over Leeds United finally instilled in the club the confidence they needed to turn around their fortunes.
Limited in their transfer signings by the financial constraints placed on them, Newcastle United avoided signing any superstars in the January transfer window. Instead, Eddie Howe and his team focused on bringing in experienced players who can lead the team from the front.
Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaeres, and Dan Burn were brought into the team, with all three players quickly becoming the core members of the club.
The ability to spot value in low-key players continued in the summer transfer window, with Eddie Howe signing Matt Targett, Alexander Isak, Sven Botman, and Nick Pope for just £123 million to bolster the team’s defencive unit further.
But the transformation was not led by outsiders alone. Both Joelinton and Miguel Almiron, who failed to find the spark under Steve Bruce, unleashed their potential under Eddie Howe in new roles.
Focus on defence
Newcastle United boast of an incredible defensive record this season, losing just one game of the twenty they played so far.
The Magpies have conceded just 11 goals in the season, the least by any team. Only league leaders Arsenal come close to their record, with 16 goals conceded in 19 games. Eddie Howe’s men have also scored more goals than Manchester United and Tottenham, putting them firmly ahead of both of the ‘big six’ clubs.
The main factor for Newcastle United’s success has been the reliability and fluency of their midfielders and defenders throughout the season. The partnership of Kieron Trippier, Sven Botman, and Dan Burn at the back made Newcastle’s defences impossible to breach with the club boasting 12 clean sheets in the Premier League so far.
Eddie Howe’s tactics have received praise for their adaptability to the conditions of the game. Against low-ranked clubs, Newcastle United are at their attacking best with Joelinton, Miguel Almiron, and Callum Wilson playing with freedom at the front.
But against sides like Manchester United and Arsenal, the Magpies adopted a more pragmatic approach, focusing on bagging a point from the game rather than taking the risk of a potential defeat.
What lies ahead
The Magpies managed to go one goal ahead of Southampton in the Carabao Cup semi-finals first-leg on Tuesday, but a berth in the final is far from confirmed.
A resurgent Manchester United pose a threat to the Magpies’ spot in the Premier League table, but Eddie Howe is unlikely to change his tactics in search of a Champions League spot.
A more pressing challenge is maintaining the fitness and form of players as Newcastle United rely a lot on their core set of players and lack meaningful squad depth. With fixtures against all ‘big six’ clubs in the coming months, Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United have a substantial challenge in their hands if they want to finish in the top six of the points table.
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