Eddie Howe proved me wrong as Newcastle manager – but I fear he might need to shock Man City to keep his job

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I WAS sceptical about Eddie Howe before he took the manager’s job at Newcastle.

I doubted he could succeed outside his comfort zone at Bournemouth.

Eddie Howe's Newcastle future is in doubt ahead of the summer

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Eddie Howe’s Newcastle future is in doubt ahead of the summerCredit: PA

I worried for him taking over the club who have the richest owners in world football, with all the pressures that brings.

Yet Howe proved me wrong last season by guiding the Toon into the Champions League in his first full campaign, as well as reaching the League Cup final.

I hope Newcastle’s Saudi owners don’t forget how far ahead of the curve Howe was then.

And I hope they consider the extraordinary bad luck he has had this season — from a betting ban for Sandro Tonali, to a severe injury crisis to the dodgy late penalty away at Paris Saint-Germain which went a long way to sending them out of Europe.

But today’s FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester City, a draw which represents even more misfortune for Howe, feels massive for his future at the club.

If he is going to remain on Tyneside next season, it feels as if he may need to pull off a shock at the Etihad.

We don’t know how the Saudis will react if Newcastle’s season is effectively ended by defeat.

We can guess that they will be ruthless. And we wouldn’t imagine that they will be thinking ‘oh well, tough luck, we got Man City’ because when you want to get to the top,  you are going to have to beat City again and again.

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The Saudis have been running Newcastle pretty quietly and sensibly.

Perhaps they will excuse Howe one season of stalled progress.
But the way FFP restrictions have bitten, with several of their players being linked with moves away in January, shows Newcastle’s bid to reach the summit of English and European football is unlikely to be smooth.

Shocking moment fan SHOVES Eddie Howe during Newcastle’s draw at Leeds

I also think the club’s location can be a hindrance in attracting overseas talent.

A lot of the foreign lads I played with only really knew about London and Manchester.

The North-East is a great part of the world and anybody who knows football cannot help but love St James’ Park.

But a lot of players would prefer moves to the capital or to Manchester, where clubs will also pay big wages.

I remember former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley proposing the club moved its training base to London because of this — which didn’t go down well with the fans, who hated him anyway.

But when players do make the move to Tyneside, they often love it.

Bruno Guimaraes is a good example. The Brazilian is adored there and he clearly loves the club.

Even in defeat at Chelsea last Monday, you could see his passion. I thought he was the best player on the pitch.

Howe could guide Newcastle to the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend

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Howe could guide Newcastle to the FA Cup semi-finals this weekendCredit: Getty

That Ashley era feels a world away now, thanks to the money of the new owners and excellent management of Howe.

But anybody who is expecting Newcastle to rise to dominance quickly is likely to be mistaken.

Newcastle are capable of beating anyone in a one-off match and they defeated City in the League Cup this season.

If they can edge out Pep Guardiola’s side tonight it would be a mood-changer for Howe and his team, and another day out at Wembley for the supporters in the semi-finals.

For a club that hasn’t won a major trophy in well over half a century, progressing in the Cup is extremely important.

You fear for Howe’s future if they don’t. But then I hope I’d be wrong again.



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Eddie Howe proved me wrong as Newcastle manager – but I fear he might need to shock Man City to keep his job

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