Paul Merson has issued Eddie Howe a warning that he has “three games to save Newcastle” from relegation despite having yet to take charge of a single match.
Howe was formally announced as Newcastle manager on Monday after impressing in a zoom interview where he outlined his plan to guide the club to safety.
He is reportedly set to receive a budget of £50million for the January transfer window but faces a tough challenge with the Magpies currently down 19th in the league and yet to record a win this season.
But former Arsenal midfielder and pundit Merson believes the ex-Bournemouth manager faces a crucial test in having to win three of his next four matches, stating Newcastle will be in “massive trouble” if he fails.
Merson wrote in his Daily Star Sport column: “Eddie Howe has three games to save Newcastle.
“They've got Brentford, Norwich and Burnley in their next three home games and he needs seven points from those at least, or they're in massive trouble.
“Arsenal play them as well at the Emirates but that's almost a free swing because no-one will expect them to win there.
“It's those three home games where he has to get results. It's a nice start for him really – but after that it gets messy.
“After that it's Leicester and Liverpool away, followed by both Manchester clubs at home. If you go into that and you're still in the bottom three it could be curtains.”
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Newcastle have already faced relegation rivals Aston Villa and Watford this season, only picking up one point out of a possible six in those fixtures.
Merson believes Howe, who took a break from management after being sacked by Bournemouth in 2020, will only need to assure Newcastle's safety in order to keep his job next season.
He added: “Eddie's had a few months off so he will be enthusiastic and will bring energy and positivity.
“But it's not an impossible job. The goalposts have moved. Steve Bruce had to get them in the top half. Eddie just has to keep them up.
“It just feels like he's up against it already because the fans seem underwhelmed. I didn't see hundreds of them turning up to welcome him.”
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