Eddie Howe and Newcastle: ... To Everything
This post is a follow up to this post and while it could work as its own post, it would still make sense if the first one was read ahead of this one.
Bring Us Chelsea!
Now the team, Bournemouth, is ready to hurt opponents - in the English expression - while also in possession. At that moment, the second characteristic feature of Howe's ball-tactical personality appeared; Using the quick, technical wingers as playmakers in transitions, particularly in-depth and half-spaces. And again, there was a clever idea behind that usage.
Wilshere used to occupy the position of playmaker No. 10 behind Afobe or Wilson, but the biggest work was done by Joshua King, who occupied the left half of the space during possession, then as soon as the ball was lost, he returned as a third player in the middle.
The same behaviour appears from Ryan Fraser in this sequence against Manchester United; The rise of the fullbacks during possession - another important feature of Howe's tactical personality - allows the Scotsman to occupy the middle space between the end and the depth, and then Harry Wilson repeats the same thing when the ball reaches him, and suddenly Manchester United finds himself forced to pile his players in front of his own goal, leaving space for Adam Smith, the left full-back, for King to catch his cross, which he converted into De Gea's goal.
The irony is that the most important manifestation of this phenomenon came against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the following season, 2017-2018, when Bournemouth presented its best tactical and technical performances ever, led by Howe, in a 3-0 victory over the hosts, despite Conte’s very conservative start, with a squad that was dominated by defensive character as his most games that season.
Jordon Ibe - the winger - receives the ball in the central space, and immediately the movements of King and Wilson begin in the channels between the defenders. The idea here is that pulling the wing from the end to the depth puts the opponent in front of a difficult choice between accompanying him and leaving the space or vice versa, and thus Ibe escapes from close control and is allowed an extra second on the ball.
This second creates all possible chaos in the opposition's defences, as Bakayoko and Kante prepare to pounce on Ibe, Cahil is forced to turn to follow Ibe's move, leaving Wilson to attack the space behind his back. This is what happens when fast, technical players sneak deep in transitions; Only one of them, even if he is not as good as Ibe, can occupy the attention of three or four players at once, for fear of what he might do if he decides to drive the ball forward.
Chelsea's overwhelming numerical superiority did not help them for the same reason mentioned above. Bournemouth decided to limit play to only half of the vertical field, and this gave it a qualitative advantage in the possession position itself, through which holes and channels appeared in Conte's defence, and attacking space became as easy as possible.
The Wisdom of Despair
Of course, you know what happened next; The performance curve began to decline gradually, and the outburst of beginnings and the desire for achievement disappeared after ensuring stability in the Premier League, and tranquillity and calmness leaked after it, then the human soul did its usual thing, and everyone began to deal with what they had accomplished as a given, which does not need effort, focus, and the same caution to preserve it.
By the end of the 2019-20 season, Howe was leading Bournemouth to a similar position to the one he found the club in, but five rungs higher on the ladder of English football.
Aeschylus, the Greek philosopher who is considered by many to be the first tragedian in history, believed that despair is the greatest teacher of man because it frees him from striving, ambition, competition and the desire for achievement. Only in despair are we given wisdom, and wisdom led Howe to a full-year hiatus, during which he moved between Diego Simeone's training in Madrid, and those led by Klopp and his assistant Pepijn Lijnders in Liverpool.
This was one of Howe's unorthodox personality traits; His simple football and social background, with his rapid meteoric rise, did not make him lose his mind and did not prevent him from being humble like most cases of sudden transformation. This is confirmed by all those who dealt with the man, and it is evident in his balanced statements and calm press conferences.
At that moment, another club was descending into despair with Steve Bruce, the man who had emotionally broken down after his dismissal, due to the bullying and harm he faced from the Newcastle fans, and after a transitional period with Graeme Jones, one of Howe's assistants in Bournemouth ironically, Howe ran for the position.
It is most likely that the new Newcastle administration saw Howe as a temporary saviour, just as the Bournemouth administration saw him on the last day of 2008. It is most likely that Jones had a hand in his candidacy as well, but the man had turned into a more developed version of himself; The main ideas are the same, albeit developed, but with imaginative intensity and deadly speed, as you would expect from a coach who spent his last year with Klopp and Simeone.
In a long, fat analysis via "The Athletic", Jacob Whitehead explains the stages of Howe's tactical development down to the present moment, and the similarities between Bournemouth and Newcastle; As the man remained faithful to the high and medium pressure, but he became more used to 4-3-3 than others, in which he relied on the Guimarães, Joelinton and Longstaff trio, and used his wings, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almirón, in the same way.
The three midfielders choked the space in depth to extract the ball in that space specifically and then launched quick transformations attacking the spaces in the back of the defenders, and this is what produced Wilson's first goal against West Ham after Willock, Longstaff and Joelinton pressed Paqueta. During that sequence Saint-Maximin and Almiron maintained their position in the half-spaces, taking the fullbacks out of play, and converting a 5-by-3 position in width to 3-by-3 in depth as soon as any of them received the ball.
This goal started with a very clever turn from the Swiss Fabian Schär, who was able to anticipate the longitudinal pass to Antonio, and he is one of those whom Howe rediscovered with the team's most prominent star this season, Miguel Almiron, and this exceptional ability for individual development came mainly from Howe's early days with Bournemouth when he learned to do everything himself.
McAdam had not visited his old buddy in years, but if he had visited him now, he would have found the wall of his office bearing different numbers; This team has far better technical and technical capabilities, and from here the ambitious Saudi acquisition will likely only lead it higher.
Believe it or not, Newcastle ranks second in the Premier League this season behind Manchester City in terms of expected goals against it (xGA), according to the FBREF website, which specializes in football statistics and digital analysis, seventh in terms of expected goals (xG), and fourth in terms of expected goals against it (xGA). Expected goal difference per match (xGD/90). These are qualitative criteria that confirm that the Howe team occupies its natural and logical place in the ranking table.
The most important of all was the space that radically transformed in Newcastle, under the leadership of Steve Bruce. The team was the most passive in the Premier League without the ball, with a number of record pressure times, and it was the lowest in the competition over the previous five seasons, and Howe managed to turn that into the exact opposite within A few months later, and with the third month of the current edition halfway through, Newcastle was at the top of the standings in terms of the number of times the ball was retrieved in the upper third of the field.
Likewise, the opponents' Passes Per Defensive Action (PPDA) rate fell to an all-time low of nearly 10 passes, which means that the intensity of black-and-white pressure was at its peak.
This particular feature turned into a general character of the team under the leadership of Howe, to the extent that it was the main driver of the recent changes in the starting line-up, with the entry of Murphy and Swede Alexander Isaac, accompanied by Joe Willock, at the expense of the likes of Almiron, Wilson and Longstaff, to return the team to its former vitality and sharpness during the victory over Wolves, Leading a new offensive line, the Wolves defence struggled with it during preparation.
The future holds more, of course. They may qualify for the Champions League this season or not, but what Newcastle has achieved with Howe so far is only the beginning, and nothing prevents him from switching to another Chelsea or Manchester City in the future, even if this is done with less spending, greater wisdom and slower steps, and even if Eddie Howe is just a stage in the grand scheme of the future.
Surprisingly, it all began with yet another moment of despair, a despair that wised up Howe and found Newcastle's life on his other side. It is remarkable that what began as another attempt to avoid relegation turned into a cohesive winning team that fights with adults, competes for champions seats and aspires in the future, led by an unconventional champion who realizes that one is not defeated when he loses, he is not defeated when he is possessed by doubt, and he is not defeated even when He despairs, but is defeated when he surrenders, and it does not seem that Edward Frank Howe will be defeated soon.
Eddie Howe's Evolution Journey - Sky
List of Bournemouth players in the 2008-2009 season - Transfermarkt
From Bournemouth to Newcastle... Eddie Howe's tactical development - The Athletic
All Bournemouth transfers – Transfermarkt
Master class; Eddie Howe - The Coaches' Voice
The famous Aeschylus quotes - Brainy Quote
The facts regarding Newcastle Steve Bruce – The Athletic
Steve Bruce: "This could be my last job" - BBC
Graeme Jones' training career - Transfermarkt
The Newcastle players have embraced Howe's sharp pressing style...and now their work is paying off! - The Athletic
Tactical analysis; How Eddie Howe transformed Newcastle - The Football Faithful
Newcastle Eddie Howe; Tactical Analysis - The Master Mind Site
Premier League statistics for the 2022-2023 season – FBREF
Alexander Isak and Eddie Howe’s reshaped attack reigniting Newcastle’s season