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When Eddie Howe said on Friday, after almost two weeks on the job, that he had yet to see Newcastle in the light of day, such is the time he has spent at the club’s training ground, it has offered a glimpse into the world of a workaholic manager who was in the building by 7am on the first day.

“When he takes on a job he puts a lot of effort into it,” says Marvin Bartley, who played under Howe at Bournemouth and Burnley. “One day I thought, ‘I’m going to beat the gaffer.’ No matter what time I arrived in the morning, his car would be there. I’m like, ‘How does it happen so early? Does he sleep there? I never managed to beat him. “

There is no way Howe’s side will be under-prepared for Brentford’s visit to St James’ Park on Saturday, even though he must miss his first game after testing positive for Covid-19. Howe will be in touch with his staff from his hotel room and his assistants, Jason Tindall and Graeme Jones, will lead the team. “He always thought the training would take over the weekend,” said Tommy Elphick, his captain when Bournemouth won promotion to the Premier League. “As a player you could always see he was working backwards.”

Howe said he felt invigorated and energized when he returned to management after a 15-month absence, but during that time, in addition to playing sports with his oldest sons, Rocky and Harry, he was is focused on self-improvement, visiting Atlético Madrid, Rayo Vallecano and Liverpool, optimizing their color-coded training plans into a digital format and analyzing Newcastle’s strengths and weaknesses long before taking the job.

“People would say, ‘You’ve been out of the game’ and question that, but for me I’m more relevant and more in touch than I’ve ever been in terms of what’s going on at the highest level. “Howe said last week.

The first day provided an overview of how Howe works. First came the beep test – high fitness levels are paramount for his teams to be dynamic – and on the grass it was generally practical, playing a passing drill focused on overlapping runs. “His energy in training is what motivated us,” says Elphick. “He taught us a way to win. We all received an SMS the day before his first session. He asked us to bring some money to put in a jar. He split us into four teams and we had a tournament where the winner took it all. It was a way for him to use us to bring a competitive advantage to the group. We have never looked back.

Those who have worked with Howe stress how much he cares about his players and staff. He was there for Harry Arter after the tragic death of the midfielder’s daughter, and Ryan Garry, who played under Howe in the manager’s first stint at Bournemouth, remembers his support after breaking his leg for the second time. “Eddie was the first team coach at the time and he was one of the first staff after the physiotherapist to call me,” said Garry, the England Under-18 coach. years. “He has this empathy for people on a personal level. Those little things you don’t forget.

Early Debut and Personal Touch: What It’s Like to Play for Eddie Howe |  Newcastle United
Tommy Elphick of Bournemouth lifts the Championship trophy, won under Eddie Howe in May 2015. Photograph: Steve Bardens / Getty Images

He often lay down on “extras” in training. Garry remembers Howe and his assistant Jason Tindall hosting a 45 minute session for defenders – “Eddie’s appetite for developing players is huge” – and when Bartley joined Burnley from Bournemouth, he and Charlie Austin were going early because Howe was putting on a tailor-made sessions. Garry lifts another episode after a Ligue 2 loss at Aldershot. “I was scoring their forward, Marvin Morgan, and Eddie and I had a difference of opinion. We got back to the ground, everyone went home, the lights are out, and we have a half hour discussion in the tunnel about how to tag someone in the canal.

When Howe, former director of the Bournemouth Center of Excellence, took the reins in 2008, the team ended up with a 17-point deduction, bailiffs showed up regularly and players were missing. paid. Howe galvanized the club, washing the kit and dipping into his own pocket to fund equipment and bring in a conditioning trainer. He and Tindall would monitor the opposition. “I would know everything about my opponent before I step on the pitch,” said Bartley. “Eddie was ahead of his time.”

Howe was quick to generate a sense of ownership. After avoiding relegation out of the league, he told the team on day one of the preseason that the goal was promotion, which they achieved. “He makes you believe in yourself and in him,” said Bartley, remembering Howe’s first spell at Bournemouth. “We were almost like robots; we believed in him so much, we respected him so much. Everything he said is gone. If he said you have to run 10 miles before training, we would do it no questions asked. When he went to Burnley they had just been relegated and there were a lot of players who thought they knew better. “

Howe demands high standards. Sitting on balls in practice is punished with a fine and the players have admitted that they cannot relax. “It was always, ‘How are we going to improve for tomorrow?’ », Explains Elphick. “When he enters the canteen, you always sit a little straighter. On my trips outside, I always made sure I was downstairs and looked fresh and ready for breakfast. You were always aware of what he thought of you. He definitely wears that presence and aura and keeps you on your toes. “

Early Debut and Personal Touch: What It’s Like to Play for Eddie Howe |  Newcastle United
Eddie Howe with his Premier League Bournemouth players in the summer of 2020. Photograph: 2020 Getty Images

The 43-year-old always looks cool and although he’s nice, he’s not just a Mr. Nice Guy. Howe sent Aaron Ramsdale, a £ 800,000 signing from Sheffield United, on loan after the goalkeeper missed the bus for a Bournemouth game at Chelsea. “If he needs to ride you he will, but he loses it in the right way, to make sure it has an impact on the team,” says Bartley, remembering the time he got down the team bus wearing a cowboy costume for the Manchester Christmas Party, hours after being sent off early in a 5-0 loss at Morecambe.

“It was one of those old-fashioned coaches that only had one way, one way, so to get off we had to walk past the gaffer. I had the hat and everything, boots with spikes – they jingled as I got off the bus. I was saying to Darren Anderton, ‘I can’t come.’ When I walked past him, he didn’t even look at me. I could just feel he was disgusted with me. He brought it up in every team chat afterwards, saying, “You guys owe me.”

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