Pearce: Newcastle boss Howe has been brilliant

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Pearce is an ambassador for Pitching In and its multi-million pound investment into non-league football.
Pearce is an ambassador for Pitching In and its multi-million pound investment into non-league football.

By Paul Martin, Sportsbeat

Former Newcastle favourite Stuart Pearce believes Eddie Howe can be Kevin Keegan’s natural successor and bring the ‘90s feelgood factor back to Tyneside.

Pearce spent two seasons at St James’ Park in the post-Keegan era under Kenny Dalglish but knows from life as an opposition player during the Entertainers era how the stadium can become a fortress when United are going well.

And the 59-year-old recognises a similar feeling developing under Howe, who has led the Magpies to into the top half after a remarkable transformation featuring a run of six consecutive home wins.

“Eddie has done a brilliant job,” Pearce said. “His recruitment was brilliant in January and the fans are back on side.

“You only have to go to St James’ Park and hear the atmosphere now compared to what it was like beforehand, it’s fantastic to see.

“I remember the Kevin Keegan days and Newcastle could rise to become a powerhouse again. They are a fantastic club with great support and a credit to the Premier League.”

Pearce is currently part of West Ham’s coaching staff – along with former Toon skipper Kevin Nolan – and has helped the London side cement themselves among the European challengers in the past few seasons.

He expects Newcastle to join them in that bracket before long but warned fans not to expect instant success.

“It's all well having the finance but when you’re trying to recruit, it can cause its own problems as well,” he said.

“You’ll have to pay top dollar and a lot of players want to come and play for Champions League teams, so you have to break that barrier down a little bit.

“It’s not as straightforward as signing the best players, who want to play in Europe, but you look at the January recruitment – sensible signings in positions they needed to strengthen.

“They’re doing the right things, the results bear that out, and they’ve got a manager who knows the league.”

The 60-year-old has not lost sight of his non-league roots and hailed the depth of talent beneath the EFL – something Newcastle fans are well aware of, with January signing Dan Burn among those to have shone at non-league level before climbing through the ranks.

“Without the non-league scene and the bottom of the pyramid, there wouldn’t be the top end of the pyramid,” he said.

“Everyone loves a story of a player coming through the non-league scene, [Jamie] Vardy certainly a few years ago captured the headlines when he made that journey to become a big star in the Premier League.

“I work with a couple of players now in Michail Antonio and Craig Dawson that have come through non-league themselves there’s a real collection of players that have honed their trade in the local community and gone right the way through.”

Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/

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