Eddie Howe won’t be named Premier League Manager of the Year – but why not?
The job he has done since taking charge of Newcastle United has been nothing short of sensational – you could even argue he has performed miracles on Tyneside since taking charge just six months ago.
Yes, Newcastle lost to Liverpool on Saturday – but that was their first home league defeat of 2022. And it is certainly no disgrace to lose against one of the best teams on the planet.
Having held Liverpool to just a 1-0 loss, you would think that Howe would take a lot from this game, possibly even more than Jurgen Klopp.
Howe insists he takes very little from the game due to the defeat, but acknowledges the progress they have made.
“I am not happy to lose any game, there has been progress, it shows there is a gap we have to bridge to top teams, we have work to do,” he admitted after the loss to Liverpool. “We know there is a lot of work to do, but from where we are, we have improved a lot.”
The Magpies were well beaten in the end, but they stuck around and when you compare the two teams, it is something of an achievement for Howe to even get this team competing close to the level of quadruple-chasing Liverpool.
The fact, though, that Newcastle started the day in the top-half of the table can’t be over-looked.
Let’s look back to November 20th last year, the date of Howe’s first game in charge of the club – although he had to do so from a hotel room as he caught Covid-19 in the build-up.
The first game ended in a 3-3 draw with Brentford, a result which actually saw Newcastle drop to the bottom of the Premier League table.
Things could only get better for the Magpies and Howe, as despite basking in the delight of new owners and their wealth, relegation was looming as they went into December, still without a victory.
On Boxing Day, Newcastle were still second from the bottom of the table with just one win to their name, but into 2022 and the New Year, things have changed.
Looking at the Premier League table from January 1, it makes a remarkable reading. Not because of who is top, however – little surprise that is Liverpool who are the form team in European football.
Liverpool have a near 100% record with their only blips being two draws against their main rivals Manchester City and Chelsea.
But second to them is Newcastle.
Yes, Newcastle are the second best team in the Premier League in 2022 – even taking in the defeat to Liverpool on Saturday.
Compare that to when Howe took charge, when they were without a win and the worst team in the league. It defies logic, but those are the facts.
Yes, Howe and Newcastle made some moves in January, but it was not just a matter of throwing money at the problem – they went with what they needed and all their signings have been excellent.
Kieran Trippier’s arrival from Atletico Madrid transformed things, really set the ball in motion but Matt Targett, Dan Burn and club-record signing Bruno Guimaraes have been outstanding.
But it is probably what Howe and his staff have done with the players already at the club that has been the most impressive.
Joelinton is actually starting to look like a player worth close to his £40m price-tag having been reinvented as a midfielder, Jonjo Shelvey is looking like the captain he is, while Fabian Schar has gone from the brink of leaving the club to being handed a new deal only this week.
I was one who questioned whether Howe had it in him to keep Newcastle up, and not that he will be remotely bothered, he has shown me and others just how wrong we are.