What do Jurgen Klopp, Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte all have in common? Aside from being the best in the business and rightly held in high regards by lovers of the game and all having lifted the Premier League trophy?
They have all been relegated.
You might think “Well this has nothing to do with Newcastle” but just bear with me, there’s a point to this. It might be a sense of schadenfreude wanting to look at others’ success while we’ve endured nothing but failure, but stick with it.
Wenger relegated Nancy in 1986 and the season before they barely survived, managing to stay up by beating Mulhouse in the relegation playoffs 3-2 on aggregate. Nevertheless, Wenger was contacted by Monaco and went on to win the Division 1 in the 1987–88 season. His first season after being relegated.
After spending time with FIFA before the 1994 world cup and a successful spell in Japan, Arsene went on to rock the Premier League, challenge Alex Ferguson for the title and cement Arsenal in the history books and the only team (at the time of writing) to go a Premier League season undefeated.
Wenger is no doubt one of the greatest managers of the Premier League era, winning 3 titles and the FA Cup 7 times with Arsenal.
Conte in July 2006 was appointed the manager of Arezzo in the second tier of Italian football. However he would only last little over 3 months before being sacked after a horrible run of form and bad results. Fast forward to March 2007 and Arezzo took a gamble, giving Conte a second chance to redeem himself.
19 points from 21 saw Arezzo climb the table, however it wouldn’t be enough and on the final day of the season Conte and Arezzo dropped down into the third tier.
A successful spell at Bari came next, bringing them away from the drop zone and securing mid-table in his first attempt. Gaining promotion on the second time of asking.
Conte has gone on to win 5 titles across England and Italy (respectively).
Klopp, arguably the most relevant in this case, took over from Mainz when they were flirting with the 3rd tier of German football. After being given time to implement his style of play that’s made him one of the greats of this generation, he managed to bring Mainz a taste of top flight football for the first time in the clubs history.
A small budget, the smallest stadium in the league and small expectations, Klopp managed to secure Mainz in the middle of the table for two seasons before securing UEFA Cup competition. Klopp would go on to take Mainz back down to the 2nd tier the next season.
Despite this black mark next to his name, Dortmund and Bayern saw something in him. Ultimately it would be The Black and Yellow that would secure Klopp and lift the German Supercup in their first season together.
The only man on this list to lift the Champions League Trophy as a manager, he also has a Premier League title, 2 Bundesliga titles and a host of domestic cups.
The moral of this is that Newcastle fans (and the wider footballing world) shouldn’t be so quick to write off Eddie Howe just because he oversaw Bournemouth’s relegation back to the Championship.
Howe took a club from League One to the Premier League, a place where you could argue they had no right to be. And not only this, but he kept them there for 5 years. This is all the more impressive when you take into account he was only there for 8 years, Bournemouth had never been in the league before, they had a small budget and an even smaller stadium.
None of the managers listed had achieved anything as a manager prior to overseeing their club’s demotion. They could have been as easily written off as not good enough at the time. But they weren’t, they were given a chance to prove themselves and look where they are now. Where would the clubs that shared success with them be now if they hadn’t looked past one negative footnote on their CV.
There are more that I could have included; like Southgate, England’s first manager to reach a tournament final, the local hero Bobby Robson, Belgium’s Roberto Martinez and of course Rafa Benitez.
Howe may not reach the heights of a Klopp or a Wenger in his career, chances are he won’t. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be given a chance. It’s time to focus on the good he’s done, because it by far outweighs the bad. If Howe is the man to take over at Newcastle, I for one will back him 100% and wish him every success.