Newcastle manager Eddie Howe celebrates one year in charge dreaming of silverware

Having taken over with the club in the relegation zone, the Magpies are now third in the Premier League and face Crystal Palace in the League Cup

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When Eddie Howe took charge of Newcastle United exactly one year ago this week, the situation was looking desperate for the incoming manager.

The Magpies were second bottom of the Premier League, without a win from 11 games and five points from safety. To make matter worse, Howe had tested positive for Covid which meant he had to watch his first match – a chaotic 3-3 draw with Brentford – from a hotel room in Gateshead.

Fast forward 12 months and Howe has masterminded a remarkable turnaround that sees the club sitting third in the table after an impressive 4-1 destruction of Southampton on Sunday.

Talk on Tyneside is no longer about the spectre of relegation but the chance of playing European football next season for the first time since 2013.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has even talked up Howe's team as potential Premier League champions. “They have incredible physicality to the way they play and they are playing one game a week, they are not playing in Europe and when this happens that’s a big advantage,” said the Spanish coach.

Howe has since played down the chances of Newcastle winning their first top-flight title since 1927 but admitted before Wednesday's League Cup tie against Crystal Palace that the club is focused on success – and silverware.

“I said at the very beginning that my dream was to try to win something for Newcastle and that hasn't changed,” said the former Bournemouth manager ahead of the third-round game at St James' Park. “We want to do well in the cups.

“When you play any game you have to get the mindset right. Everybody has to have the mindset to win and progress.

Joelinton, right, is one of the players has has flourished since the arrival of Eddie Howe, left, as Newcastle manager. Reuters

“We are ambitious, you have to dream big. The players mirror my thoughts. There are no dead games here – we want to win every game and that's what we will try to do.”

Howe has spent big but spent well since taking over with the club's Saudi-backed ownership splashing out more than £200 million ($229m) on new players.

In the summer, the black and whites brought in England goalkeeper Nick Pope from Burnley and Lille defender Sven Botman, complimenting a backline that had already been strengthened by the arrival of Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn in January.

The improvement is clear for all to see. No club has conceded fewer goals (11) or earned more clean sheets (six) than Newcastle in the Premier League and it this defensive meanness has been the foundation of the team's rise up the table.

In midfield, Bruno Guimaeres – who was another January signing and has just been named in Brazil's World Cup squad – has been so impressive that he has attracted the attentions of Spanish giants Real Madrid, after scoring eight goals in 28 league games since joining.

But it is the performances of players that Howe inherited that has been most eye catching; from the improvement of Swiss defender Fabian Schar, to the reinvention of Joelinton as a powerhouse back-to-box midfielder and the emergence of winger Miguel Almiron as an unlikely goal machine.

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The Paraguayan – who went into this season having managed just 14 goals in 123 appearances – has been in scintillating form scoring seven times in his last seven games, including a stunning volley at Fulham that earned him October's goal of the month award on BBC's Match of the Day.

“We don’t expect Miggy to be scoring shots from 30 yards every week,” Howe said ahead of the Southampton win. “If you put the recent strikes together, you get a show reel of outstanding goals. But I get just as much pleasure from his second goal at Fulham which was from six yards out.”

Next up is Patrick Vieira's Eagles in a competition where Newcastle have a miserable record, having never gone beyond the last eight since losing to Manchester City in the final back in 1976. In the last five seasons alone, they have failed to make it beyond round two on four occasions.

And while the Howe mantra is “win every game”, there will inevitably be changes to the starting XI for what is the second of three games in six days.

“We have got a lot of players who are eager to play and show their qualities,” he said. “We will try to make the right call for the team while acknowledging that we are desperate to progress and do well in the competition. I have got to make the right choices and get the balance right.”

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Updated: November 09, 2022, 12:55 PM
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