This hasn’t happened by accident at Newcastle United.
It isn’t something that comes along by chance.
At St James’ Park these days, there is absolutely no I in Team.
That’s Eddie Howe that is.
He has taken a completely dispirited and disillusioned Newcastle United squad and completely turned it around these past 12 months.
Of course, it took far less time than that for us to see the benefits of Eddie Howe’s hard work.
The closing down of the Steve Bruce Holiday Park was absolutely reinforced when Eddie Howe and his coaching team arrived in the November 2021 darkness on their first day of work, at the training ground before 7am to start trying to turn things around from the chaos he had inherited.
It is well documented (countless NUFC players testifying to this since the change of head coaches) that one of the first tasks Eddie Howe had on his plate, was to get the Newcastle United squad properly fit.
I think fair to say that true leadership is when you show it by example.
Clearly the Newcastle United players responding to the passion, dedication, time and effort put in by Eddie Howe and his staff.
In very little time, the new NUFC Head Coach had every player looking fitter and playing at a higher level.
However, as well as improving them all as individuals, Eddie Howe also very quickly produced a team that was greater than the sum of its parts. There truly is no I in this Newcastle United Team.
I think that is one of the many reasons why Newcastle fans have reacted so positively to what they are seeing, not just a team of players, but a whole squad who play for each other and back each other up.
We saw this at the end of the last game before the World Cup break, some feeble Chelsea wannabee hard men swiftly backing off when Dan Burn and the boys weren’t taking any nonsense from the defeated cockney boys.
More importantly though, on the pitch we are seeing the sense of team, the sense of playing for each other, contributing to result after result. Of course, this team / squad doesn’t just survive / thrive on hard work and spirit…but it massively helps.
The thing is as well, every single one of the eight Eddie Howe signings has also very quickly shown that they have bought into what is happening at St James’ Park these days.
Countless examples of players finding themselves out of the starting eleven but absolutely zero sign of any petulance. Every player is of course desperate to get into the team and isn’t happy to sit on the bench (who would want players who are happy doing that???), but their reaction is clearly to simply do everything they can in training and when coming on as a sub, to try and persuade Eddie Howe that they are worthy of a place in the team.
We have seen how expertly Eddie Howe has handled even the biggest signings, Bruno Guimaraes having to wait some six weeks to start his first game, whilst Sven Botman was in and out of the team until cementing his place from the start of October, this after opting out of an international call up so he could instead stay and work hard in training to try and impress the Head Coach…
The team spirit is arguably no better seen than in defence, the back five have been especially phenomenal in this recent run of form and indeed throughout 2022.
Scoring a goal against Newcastle United is now something of an achievement, only four times in the last 35 Premier League games, have Newcastle conceded more than one goal in a match.
It was an inherent quality of both the Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson teams, how hard the players all worked for each other on the pitch. In the Sir Bobby era, there were undoubtedly different factions off the pitch, but on it their work rate and commitment was oustanding.
Eddie Howe has very quickly done something similar, if retaining this team spirit and group commitment, whilst at the same time keep on adding more and more quality players who buy into it.
Then Newcastle United are only heading in one direction…