Manager’s notes: Howe using piano to switch off from Newcastle demands

<span>Eddie Howe at <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Newcastle;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Newcastle</a> training this week. ‘I back myself, my abilities and my qualities,’ he says.</span><span>Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty Images</span>

Eddie Howe has revealed that playing the piano has helped him to relax during an often stressful season at Newcastle by briefly diverting his focus from football.

“I was tinkling the ivories last night,” the manager said on Friday. “When I’m playing I’m not thinking of 4-3-3 or 4-4-2; it’s a rare moment for me to do that – a chance to get away from football.

“In most other parts of my life, walking my dog or going to sleep, I’m thinking football. But the piano is one of those rare things that really does occupy your brain and take you away.”

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This hobby perhaps helps Howe cope with frequent speculation he could be about to lose his job at the majority Saudi Arabian-owned club. “I back myself, my abilities and my qualities, I know what I bring to the job,” he said, shrugging off recent, unsubstantiated, talk that the Germany coach, Julian Nagelsmann, could replace him after Euro 2024. “I can’t control speculation and I don’t try to. But it genuinely doesn’t affect me.”

Howe began taking piano lessons during his time in charge of Bournemouth but has not recruited a new teacher since moving to the north-east. “My two older sons play and I try to help them out,” he said. “They’re not impressed by my playing – they’re both better than me. The older one’s on grade four and the other grade two. I’m about grade one. It’s frustrating; as we all know, as we get older it’s difficult to learn new skills but it relaxes me.”

Howe claims to be not overly musical. “If you heard me sing on karaoke, which is only for a select few people, you’d realise that I can’t sing,” said Howe before tacitly accepting an invitation to showcase his voice to a wider media audience should his team win the FA Cup in May. “If I win the cup I’ll do anything,” he pledged as he plotted an improvement on Newcastle’s 10th position in the Premier League before Saturday’s meeting with Wolves on Tyneside.

After some indifferent league results, Howe could do with three points but does not feel under undue pressure as a campaign that has seen Newcastle’s ambitions derailed by a raft of injuries to senior players enters its final stages. “I feel support and understanding from the people here,” he said. “I don’t want to put words into people’s mouths but I think they see how difficult this season has been. It’s important that I feel that support. My future will be defined by what I do; not by anyone else.”