Jamie Carragher believes Newcastle United are more than the sum of their parts, praising Eddie Howe for the coaching work done since his appointment.
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Clearly, many will point to the fact Newcastle have been able to spend over £200m since the club’s takeover last October.
While, obviously, that makes a huge difference and there’s little point in pretending it doesn’t, it is the improvement Howe has yielded from the players he inherited that has helped make him such a popular figure on Tyneside.
Miguel Almiron, of course, is the most recent example of this, with the Paraguayan already enjoying his most prolific season at the club so far, but the likes of Joelinton and Fabian Schar before him have turned their Newcastle careers around.
Then there’s the signings. Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Sven Botman and Alexander Isak may have all been linked with more traditionally competitive clubs before their arrivals, but the same could hardly be said of Dan Burn, Chris Wood or Matt Targett.
Hugely important figures (perhaps Wood aside) in Newcastle’s rise up from a relegation battle, they have proved to be astute additions at the right time, with Burn in particular still a fixture in the first-team.
What did Carragher say of Newcastle?
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Carragher said: “I’m not trying to knock the players.
“They’re good Premier League players but it almost feels like the collective is better than the individuals.
“I think Eddie Howe, maybe alongside Marco Silva, is getting as much from his team as any other manager in the Premier League.
“I think it’s a fantastic coaching job that he’s done.”
Why is it important to recognise that?
Given the nature of the club’s takeover, any success Newcastle can enjoy in the coming years will likely be tinged in the eyes of many.
Still, and while of course every opinion is as valid as the next on that front, it’s refreshing to see Newcastle make the most of investments made well before Howe’s time.
For the first time since Rafa Benitez’s tenure, it seems as if players are improving at St James’ Park, and this time in a more progressive way that the kind of backs-to-the-wall brand of football the Spaniard deployed. A necessary evil during the Mike Ashley years, but surely few would doubt this is much more exciting to watch.
Money has paid for the journey Newcastle are going on but it is Howe’s ability to coax more and more out of fairly unfashionable names that provide the excitement along the way.