It is certainly a strange time to be a Newcastle United fan. After a takeover you could only have dreamed of, you would think the next step is to dream of climbing the table and shocking the online betting odds. But instead, the passionate Geordies have the threat of relegation looming over them eerily with every passing defeat — a situation manager Eddie Howe must resolve quickly if they are to avoid the drop this season.
The Magpies have been lackluster, to say the least, this season. Their winless start to their campaign looked to be salvaged when a takeover that would ensure a Saudi consortium ended Mike Ashley’s association with the club was completed. However, once Steve Bruce was relieved of his duties and things looked to finally be harmonious off the field, on it, results simply haven’t transpired. Eddie Howe was the man tasked with turning things around at St James’ Park but has flattered to deceive thus far.
Admittedly, Newcastle finally looks to have an identity in their approach play, opting for a more possession based, free flowing style that contrasts the low block and negative tactics employed by Bruce. Although it might take time for Howe to see results, he simply might not have enough of it on his side to see his team climb the table.
Howe tasted relegation with Bournemouth in 2020, with the Cherries unable to bounce back to the top first time of asking, but are now performing valiantly in the Championship under Scott Parker. It’s a position that Newcastle fans will want to steer well clear of, as they managed to come straight back up in 2017 under the guidance of Rafa Benítez – a coach far more experienced and tactically astute than Howe.
There is still plenty of time between now and the end of the season for Newcastle to turn things around, and while they have certainly been far from their best, there is still a plethora of talent in the North East capable of avoiding the drop. Callum Wilson is a persistent threat in the final third and supported by talisman Allan Saint-Maximin, a fan favorite with the Geordies, they are certainly able to score goals. On the other end, they may have struggled, but with the wealth available at their disposal, a short-term solution for a high transfer fee might have to be the answer to their problems.
The busy festive period is an opportunity to capitalize on crucial points and while Howe may not have had the rub of the green where decisions are concerned, some big wins to head into the new year with could well prove to be the turning point in an otherwise arduous campaign. Newcastle has felt hard done by in their matches against Liverpool and Manchester City in terms of refereeing, with Howe commenting on some of the decisions that could well cost his side come May.
“All we’re asking for is just some clarity on the decisions, really, and how the officials at the time, be they on the pitch at the time or VAR, have come to those decisions. That’s all we’re asking for.” He said.
“To try and help the processes for the future because those decisions have influenced the results, I have no doubt about that. There’s been definitely a feeling of unjustness, I can definitely feel that without the group. There’s been a feeling of disbelief at some things within the games that have gone against us.”
The premier league is certainly a marathon, not a sprint, but Newcastle needs to turn things around quickly before they leave themselves with too much work to do.