It goes without saying that Eddie Howe has completely revolutionised Newcastle United.
From a team who couldn’t win a game – it even took him four attempts to get his first win, so damaged was the squad – to one that always looks like it’s got a shout of winning, his impact has been second to none.
If we survive this season – which I’m very confident we will – we’ll be the first to do so in Premier League history without winning our first 14 games. Eddie Howe’s record-breaking mags.
We can see it both on and off the pitch, but his stats are incredible. Let’s dig a little deeper into them.
10 points clear of relegation
Looking at the table at the start of December, knowing every other Premier League team who came before us had gone down when in that position, who’d have thought we’d see this at any point this season? So many of us were resigned to relegation back in November, and even more sure after Howe’s modest start (although we could see dramatic improvements in the team.)
Lamenting behind Burnley and the new yoyo club, Norwich, was depressing. If we couldn’t catch up to them, we didn’t stand a chance. But we’ve more than done that. It’s nice watching relegation six-pointers and not feeling anxious. In fact, I’ve been rooting for Burnley, Leeds and Brentford because I’m dying to see Everton go down. It’s a nice, unexpected feeling.
Three points from 10th
Another stat that we’d have laughed at when we were languishing at the bottom of the table with seven points from twice as many games. The idea that we could have such a hideous first half of the season and still be in reach of the top 10 is bonkers, purely because of how poor we were. But it also shows how ridiculous Mike Ashley was – below 6th, this league is anyone’s game. Simply a small amount of additional investment – whether to buy another striker or to fatten up the squad – would have easily had us fighting for Europe under Rafa. The league is dreadful outside of automatic European qualification.
Eight massive wins
Had we not gotten rid of both Ashley and Bruce, I couldn’t have seen us winning a game all season. The squad was so depleted in confidence, letting goals in for fun and everyone was forced to camp out in their own half for 90 minutes. Now, in almost every game, I can see us nicking a win. When we win, we win convincingly. Even in tougher games like Southampton and Brighton, it didn’t feel lucky, it felt hard-fought. We can run riot when we want – see Everton at home. And when we win, we more often than not carry the confidence through into the next game.
Four consecutive victories at the fortress
Earlier this season, St James felt like a damp squib. Understandably, nobody had any spark watching the same, unimaginative Newcastle United. The club was rotting away at the core and it had become a chore. Now, look at us on home matchdays. We’re reinvigorated. Wor Flags are back. And the players are feeding off the atmosphere. St James’ Park is once again a fortress in terms of noise and the ground that used to be so intimidating to world-class opposition players and managers.
Our Howe season average
If you look at our run of form since December 1st – even despite a sticky start to the new era – and you play it out over a full season, we’d finish with 60 points. That would slot us into the top eight this season, and we’d be fighting for Europe. On the flipside, prior to that, if you’d averaged out the previous 14, we’d have finished with 19 points. The difference is staggering.
Our form in 2022
If you’re not a fan of averages, our form in 2022 is still to be applauded. Until we were cheated out of a point (or more) at Chelsea away, Liverpool was the only team alongside us to have not lost in the league in 2022. Despite three losses on the bounce, we’re still fifth in the form table this year. We’ve won a few away games in 2022, but it’s clear that three off the bounce wasn’t going to be great. But with three home games in a row now, we could see ourselves inch up that table.