Eddie Howe has transformed Newcastle United from relegation favourites into Champions League challengers & arguably the most impressive aspect of Howe’s work has been his work with Newcastle’s existing players.
While the former Bournemouth manager has spent cannily in the transfer market – the likes of Bruno Guimaraes, Nick Pope and Sven Botman have been excellent additions – Howe has also revived players that were flagging under Steve Bruce.
Here are five men that have improved massively under Howe’s watchful eye since November 2021.
The Paraguayan was nothing short of excellent during his time at Atlanta United, which is why Newcastle stumped up £21million – a club-record fee back in January 2019.
Like all MLS exports, you could sense a will from north American journalists for Almiron to succeed at St. James’ Park and prove there’s something to Major League Soccer. They’ve been made to wait.
There was never any shortage of endeavour from the forward, who would buzz about the pitch and chase lost causes even as things were at their worst under Steve Bruce.
But there was always a frustrating lack of end product, as evidenced by his record of just nine goals and three assists in his first 110 Premier League appearances across three-and-a-half seasons; culminating in Jack Grealish using his name as a cruel punchline.
Everything’s changed in 2022-23. ‘Wor Miggy’ was arguably the league’s best player in the run-up to the World Cup and, while the goals have dried up since, his nine goals in 20 Premier League is the best of his European career to date.
Miguel Almiron since October 1:
As many as he scored in his previous 76 matches
— Premier League (@premierleague) November 6, 2022
The local boy burst onto the scene as an exciting young prospect, but such was his tail-off during the struggles under Bruce that reports of £50million interest from Manchester United became something of a joke.
Longstaff would certainly have been among those expected to be left behind as his boyhood club enter an ambitious new era, but he’s done well to retain his place in midfield.
His scuttling energy provides a nice balance alongside star man Bruno Guimaraes, and his man-of-the-match display in the 4-1 win over Southampton in November shows he still has plenty to offer.
Six months after Miggy, Joelinton arrived to break the transfer record again, arriving for a £40million fee from Hoffenheim.
But the Brazilian forward always seemed to be misunderstood by Bruce. He was most effective in a supporting role at Hoffenheim, and has never been particularly prolific in front of goal – his best return in a league campaign was eight goals in the Austrian Bundesliga back in 2016-17.
Joelinton might have had the physical profile and wore No.9 on his back, but he was no Shearer, mustering just 10 goals in his first three Premier League seasons and never more than four in one Premier League campaign.
Howe immediately identified that Joelinton isn’t a centre-forward and looked to get the most out of him elsewhere, turning him into the second coming of Patrick Vieira and an all-action midfield dynamo.
For that, he was deservedly named Newcastle’s Player of the Season in 2021-22 and remains a vital cog in Howe’s machine.
The Swiss centre-back’s had his moments over the years, but could be somewhat erratic and rarely had a convincing run of games under Howe’s predecessor.
Schar’s days looked to be numbered at St. James’ following the takeover and investment, particularly with the defensive reinforcements of Matt Targett, Kieran Trippier, Dan Burn and Sven Botman promising an all-new backline.
But the 30-year-old has kicked on and kept his place in the team with a series of casually commanding displays in the centre of defence alongside Botman, with Burn moving out to left-back and Targett left on the bench.
The Magpies remain unbeaten with Schar in their defence this season, with the only game he’s missed being their only defeat, 2-1 at Liverpool. A massive part of Newcastle boasting the Premier League’s best defensive record.
It would have been so easy to judge Murphy alongside the likes of Martin Dubravka, Dwight Gayle, Federico Fernandez, Isaac Hayden, Jeff Hendrick and Ciaran Clark, all of whom were justifiably deemed surplus to requirements and left Tyneside last summer.
The winger has had loans out to West Brom and Sheffield Wednesday and a harsh critic might suggest that the Championship is his level, especially during the period he was pushed to the fringes of Newcastle’s senior squad.
He probably doesn’t quite get into Howe’s best XI, but he’s continuing to prove a handy squad player, either with an impact off the bench or slotting in when first-teamers are missing.
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