NEWCASTLE: Newcastle’s new manager Eddie Howe said Wednesday he can cope with soaring expectations at the Premier League club after their Saudi-led takeover as he braces for a tough relegation battle.
Howe has replaced Steve Bruce at St James’s Park after his predecessor departed by mutual consent in October, 13 days after the ownership changed hands.
The 43-year-old former Bournemouth boss was appointed on Monday and took his first training session 24 hours later.
The Magpies, winless in three games under interim boss Graeme Jones, are second bottom of the Premier League after failing to win any of their first 11 matches this season.
Howe, whose first game will be at home to Brentford on Nov 20, knows there is huge pressure to drag Newcastle away from the relegation zone and set the foundations for a more successful future.
While he has never managed a club of Newcastle’s stature, he said his time at unfashionable Bournemouth, whom he led from the fourth tier to the Premier League during two spells in charge, would stand him in good stead.
“At Bournemouth the existence of the club was under threat if we failed — that is huge pressure,” Howe said in his first press conference as Newcastle boss.
“It’s a football club going out of business. I really felt that pressure and I lived it every day. What an education that was for a first job.”
Newcastle face relegation rivals Norwich and Burnley early in Howe’s reign before daunting Christmas fixtures against Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.
“The task ahead is huge,” said Howe. “It is a very difficult challenge. I’m under no illusion. We have a very difficult fixture list in December
“All we can do is look at the horizon, try to win the next game and try be better prepared for the next game after that.
“There is no magic wand. It will take a lot of hard work to instil what we want in the players quickly.”
Newcastle’s owners, fronted by director Amanda Staveley, have made it clear they eventually want to emulate the success enjoyed by Manchester City since their Abu Dhabi owners took charge.
They are certain to provide the funds for a spending spree in the January transfer window, but Howe would not guarantee his team could avoid relegation.
“Obviously we need to try and address that very quickly and move up the league and avoid relegation,” he said. “I’m absolutely confident we can, but I make no promises on that.”
Howe swerved questions on Newcastle’s new owners after Amnesty International accused Saudi Arabia of using the global appeal of the Premier League to “sportswash” its human rights record.
“For me this was a football decision,” he said. “I’m absolutely delighted to be manager of Newcastle. I’ll repeat myself, it is about football and that is all I’ll concern myself with.”
Howe said he had already experienced the passion of the Newcastle fans, who continue to flock to St James’s Park despite no major trophy for the club since 1969.
“The level of excitement and respect shown to me and level of interest in the players and the club is a new experience for me, one I will relish and buy into,” Howe said.
“Everything just felt right. The pull of the club is huge, the size and the history of the club and obviously the new ambitious plans. I just thought it was the perfect fit for me.”