Eddie Howe revealed on Friday that he walked into a Newcastle dressing room that “wanted help” when he launched his rescue mission as he prepares to mark 12 months in charge at St James’ Park.
Howe, who took over as manager from Steve Bruce on November 8 last year, has lifted the club from the Premier League relegation mire to a position as an unlikely top-four contender ahead of Sunday’s trip to Southampton.
He said the struggling squad he inherited, since boosted by big-money signings, was better than it was given credit for.
“I had that belief internally that we’d got some really good players,” said the former Bournemouth boss. “I think my first impressions were genuine, a really willing group that wanted to be coached, that wanted help, so I felt that was a really good starting point.”
Defender Fabian Schaer and midfielder Joelinton, who were already on the books at the club, are among those to have played big roles in Newcastle’s revival.
But 28-year-old Paraguay international Miguel Almiron, who has scored six goals in his past six games, has really caught the eye.
“We don’t expect Miggy to be scoring -- we’d love him to -- but we don’t expect him to be scoring shots from 25, 30 yards every week. It’s an unrealistic expectation,” said Howe, 44.
“We’re delighted with the ones he has scored and, if you put them together, which a lot of people have, you end up with a showreel of outstanding goals, really high technical delivery.
“But I get just as much pleasure from seeing his second goal against Fulham, a tap-in in the six-yard box from Joe Willock’s cross. They’re the goals that you’d love our players to be able to deliver every week.”
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