Howe-ay the lads! Newcastle may still have their doubters but – after their first win of the season – new boss Eddie has brought a feel-good factor back to St James’ Park that has been missing for years
- The team started the season dismally, picking up three points from eight games
- Steve Bruce subsequently left the club and has been succeeded by Eddie Howe
- Howe has seen his side take seven points from his first four games at the helm
- Newcastle got their first win of the season on Saturday, beating Burnley 1-0
The dressing-room picture — players and staff celebrating after a first win in 15 Premier League matches — will no doubt attract criticism. What the scoffers fail to see is the bigger picture. Newcastle dis-United is no more.
Just seven weeks ago, following the first match of the Saudi-led ownership and last of Steve Bruce’s management, two of those players were being dragged apart by the backroom team.
The antidote to that poison has, undoubtedly, been Eddie Howe. To witness events of the past week inside St James’ Park has been to experience the resuscitation of a football club.
Newcastle look to be growing stronger under Eddie Howe (R) with every match that passes
For those beyond Tyneside there will be scepticism, and understandably so. Their 10 men were left clinging to a 1-1 draw against 19th-placed Norwich on Tuesday and, on Saturday, they scraped to a 1-0 win over Burnley, the other resident of the bottom three.
Cold analysis of the performances will reveal that Newcastle were lukewarm at best in terms of sustained quality and control. Perhaps you had to be there to capture the difference between what had gone before and now.
One fan, Wallace Wilson, noted: ‘I’ve been watching Newcastle since 1963 and I can honestly say that was one of the best supporter experiences I have had in nearly 60 years.’
Another commented on home stands feeling like an away end — on their feet throughout, all noise and backing the team.
And boy, have they bought into Howe. In part, of course, that is born from relief. They are now free of the resentment towards the previous owner and manager that had long stained their matchday outing.
The pubs around St James’ would have been braced for a 5pm boom on Saturday. But where were all the punters? Still inside the stadium serenading Howe during a lap of appreciation.
And yes, this for a team who had climbed from 20th to 19th after a first league win in nearly seven months. What perhaps should have been mild embarrassment was ousted by roaring pride.
Howe’s instant popularity has only been amplified by noises emerging from the dressing room, talk that has been backed up by effort on the pitch.
Callum Wilson (left) has scored in his last two games to help Newcastle pick up vital points
It helps when you have Callum Wilson. His penalty led to the point in midweek and his daring blast into the roof of the net against Burnley sealed all three.
The striker spoke afterwards of this win being a ‘catalyst’. It will have to be. Because for all the joy of Saturday, it will be a joyless Christmas if the next four fixtures against Leicester, Liverpool and both Manchester clubs yield as few points as the table suggests.
Indeed, we may not have seen the last of that dressing-room picture if this win stands alone entering 2022 — and posting such an image gives the doubters a point of reference.
But, for now, it has framed a feeling of renewed togetherness.
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