Eddie Howe has made huge Newcastle improvements – yet even more is needed for his biggest test yet

eddie howe, champions league, paris saint-germain, eddie howe has made huge newcastle improvements – yet even more is needed for his biggest test yet

The manager has stated he is looking for an ‘improvement in performance’ as they gear up for Tuesday (Getty)

As the Saudi money rolled in, some might have thought Eddie Howe’s days were numbered. With big-money, marquee player signings coming through the door, an elite, high-profile coach would surely not be too far behind.

At the start of this season, it appeared Howe had reached his limitations. Three defeats in Newcastle United’s opening four league games gave credence to claims all that was missing from the PIF Toon revolution was a new figurehead.

However, despite having to work with a squad so injury-ravaged, Howe has Newcastle buzzing again. His lack of willingness to be drawn on Newcastle’s Middle Eastern overlords does not make him universally popular, but what Howe is doing with his team, a threadbare one at that, is nothing short of remarkable.

A recent uptick in results is no fluke – Howe has accepted having to work with 14 fit players and academy kids as backups and is getting on with it, eking every inch out from his shell of a side, with some innovative thinking and a gameplan his players need not stray too far from.

“The gaffer, that’s it. The gaffer,” defender Jamaal Lascelles insisted after Saturday’s win over Chelsea, when asked what the difference between playing for Newcastle before the takeover compared to now was. “Everything he’s done, the philosophy, the culture, the way he gets us working. I could stand here all day and talk about it. He’s improved everyone as a player, he’s improved us as a team, everyone knows what they have to do on the pitch.”

That last point was illustrated perfectly in Saturday’s encounter with Chelsea. Newcastle had no right to win that game – against a Blues team on the up, with three goalkeepers and four academy players on the bench – and after Raheem Sterling equalised in the first half, there appeared likely to be only one winner.

Yet, somehow, with Mauricio Pochettino able to turn to £300m worth of cavalry, Newcastle dug deep, stuck to their jobs, and ran out rampant 4-1 winners. One was a collection of individuals, the other was a team. And that is down to Howe.

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Newcastle bested the Blues with a majorly depleted team


He is really trying everything possible to gain an advantage. The full-to-bursting St. James’ treatment room and a crucial clash in Paris leaves him with no alternative.

One look at Newcastle’s set pieces tells you all you need to know about the work that is going on at the training ground.

The scene is more akin to the NFL. The majority of black and white shirts in the box are “blockers” creating plenty of space for their most lethal options from Kieran Trippier’s excellent deliveries into the penalty area.

One particular routine worked out perfectly on Saturday, but Joelinton still somehow headed wide with the goal at his mercy. The results are startling, nonetheless. Having been one of the least threatening teams from set plays previously, Since the start of the 2022-23 Premier League season, no club have a better expected goal (xG) difference per 100 set pieces than Newcastle.

No stone is left unturned as Howe tries to find an edge to revive his side’s Champions League campaign.

eddie howe, champions league, paris saint-germain, eddie howe has made huge newcastle improvements – yet even more is needed for his biggest test yet

Howe has worked wonders considering many were assuming he’d be out of a job after Newcastle’s takeover


“A change of feel, just a different routine, you never know how these things affect your performance,” Howe said of his side’s decision to train on the Parc des Princes pitch ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Paris Saint-Germain, as opposed to remaining at home on the day of the game as they did in their previous two away group games.

“The results you can never guarantee, but performance, we’re looking for an improvement from our two away games. So that’s why we’ve done what we’ve done today.”

PSG come into the contest as favourites having hit five past Monaco at the weekend, and a defeat would end Newcastle’s Champions League hopes. Without half of his squad, against one of the best sides in the world, Howe and his side really shouldn’t stand a chance. As Chelsea will testify to, however, count them out at your peril.

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