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Eddie Howe's appearance on the High Performance podcast

Matt · Monday 7th November 2022
Eddie Howe's appearance on the High Performance podcast

If you don't get the time to listen to Monday's phenomenal 90-minute podcast with Jake Humphrey, Damien Hughes and Eddie Howe, we've got the Newcastle bits summarised below.

We recommend you make time to listen to the rest of it, as the manager provides a rare and candid insight into his personality and what makes him tick. In the mean-time, though, here are the NUFC sections summarised/paraphrased:

GETTING THE NEWCASTLE JOB

  • Interview by Zoom, a lot of people on the call – it’s a very difficult platform to give your personality
  • Tried to be honest and explain what I would do with the team, my philosophies
  • There was nothing digital, it was all spoken
  • My unique selling point is coaching and developing players; I believe so passionately about it and think I’m good at it
  • I also discussed the style of football I wanted to bring to Newcastle
  • They wanted to know about me as a person; wanted to know if I was going to fit the city and were the supporters going to take to me
  • Your first impressions are so important but there are no scripts, it has to come off-the-cuff and from the heart

EMERY

  • I couldn’t control whether they chose someone else, so I didn’t waste energy on it
  • I understood, particularly with Unai’s track record; I’d have made the same decision as them

STARTING THE JOB

  • There was no celebration or honeymoon period, it was “right, what’re we gonna do? How do we keep this team in the Premier League?”
  • But all my preparation was for that moment: “right, I know what I’m gonna do.”
  • Had to set clear vision – vision drives decision
  • Looked for what was positive; the last thing I wanted to do was come here and look for negatives
  • It was a hard-working group of players who wanted to be coached, which surprised me
  • Coaching is a delicate one with experienced players, and there were a lot of those in the squad
  • They either want to be left alone or they say “how can you make me better?”
  • They were talented and good lads, no problems with discipline; nothing we couldn’t put right with a few simple rules
  • Did one-on-ones to start with, which was important; I needed to get to know the player and the family behind the player; their history; where they saw their career going
  • If you don’t know anything about a player – I don’t think it’s a conversation that’ll last long and players will think “you’re not that interested in me.”
  • There’s always a story; how they came to be footballers, etc; whatever their story – I think it’s fascinating
  • If I’m going to commit to you, I want to know more about the person I’m doing that for: it’s a vital part of the job

PLAYERS’ PERCEPTIONS AND RELATIONSHIPS

  • I had to get my players on-side; I was very lucky to have Wilson, Ritchie and Fraser – they were really important relationships early on
  • You’ve got to prepared for training, not be ill-disciplined, sleep well the night before
  • I’m intense and I’m focused for the players’ careers. That can be seen as too demanding or too intense.
  • Players find training demanding but they enjoy it if they know it’s going to improve their performance on a matchday
  • With players I say: “you do this great, but you can improve this.”
  • Players have to know that you love them; “the manager loves me and the qualities I can bring, but he wants me to improve these areas.”

CONFRONTATION

  • I do not seek confrontation; players will show whether they want to be with you or not
  • Earlier in my career I would go looking for conflict and confrontation, because I wanted to find solutions straight away
  • Sometimes you gain more from stepping back and allowing things to either work-out or ultimately having to deal with a situation
  • Nothing beats the truth: “you’ve disappointed me; this is why.”
  • There can be no grey area in terms of behaviour and expectations on the training ground
  • I believe in second chances and helping, guiding and educating players; I treat them like my sons
  • If a player is making a conscious decision to go against what you’re trying to implement, you might have to draw a line; the nature of the game is to have confrontation

PLAYERS INTERACTING WITH EACH OTHER

  • As part of our fine system, we have a meeting once every two weeks; one player will tell his story
  • One thing I did was tell mine; thought I had to lead from the front and do it myself – I found it emotional
  • We’ve had some brilliant stories and talks by the players; you find out so much stuff
  • It brings you closer together and brings more understanding, like why someone might be having a bad day
  • You can hear a pin drop: everyone is very respectful and understanding that it’s going to be their turn at some stage and want to be supportive
  • Initiations have a place if you want to have a laugh and get the lads not taking themselves too seriously; I see the merits in that
  • But this is about giving people respect and the vehicle to express themselves with no judgements; it’s worked really well
  • We’ve done initiations to create laughter because laughter is so powerful

NEW SIGNINGS

  • We’ve got several presentations on how we train and why
  • Always do a presentation early on about why we’ve signed a player; all the positive things: “we’ve signed you because we love you.”
  • You set expectations later with smaller meetings
  • When we signed Kieran Trippier, we were trying to sign leaders because it was a relegation battle; Dan Burn and Chris Wood too
  • We felt that we couldn’t sign players for the future – it was for the here and now to generate a team spirit to carry us over the line
  • They did a brilliant job in the dressing room
  • The most powerful way to lead in football is leading by example on the training pitch: those guys did that immediately

THREAT OF RELEGATION

  • Fear was always there and especially when the results didn’t come immediately; not that it surprised me
  • The Norwich game was built up internally as one that we had to win to stay up
  • I was really pleased with the players; we played with ten men for such a long time and took the lead
  • I always say to the lads: “if the supporters clap you off, that’s good enough; they’ve seen you’ve given everything and they won’t tolerate anything less.”
  • There comes a time when you need the results but I felt really pleased after the Norwich game
  • We had some early knocks but then came the momentum, starting with the Leeds win: you could feel the group believed; you could sense the team gelling
  • We were down on our points target but we weren’t so far behind that the players didn’t stay on track

IMPOSTER SYNDROME?

  • I haven’t felt imposter syndrome; I feel very comfortable here; welcomed by the staff, supporters and players
  • Really enjoyed what is a very difficult and high-pressure job
  • Very thankful to everyone for that
  • I don’t over-analyse or think too deeply; I focus on what I can control: training and, to a degree, the players; motivating players and treating them the right way
  • Projecting fear to players is a very dangerous thing; they have to enter the pitch believing in everything you’ve delivered
  • My kids are proud of their dad managing Newcastle

EXPECTATIONS

  • From the outside you’re perceived to get more expectations but I put so much pressure on myself; no one on the outside can put more pressure on me than me
  • At Bournemouth I had such high expectations of me and the team
  • I believed Bournemouth would survive and do well in the Premier League

THE OWNERSHIP

  • I came here for the football club; to coach the team and manager the players
  • There are difficult questions to answer but everything I have done has been based around football
  • You’re always educating yourself on certain thing which arise around the world
  • Very proud to manage this football club and hope I do for a very long time