‘Nothing surprises me’: Ex-Newcastle star uses City ‘example’ to show Howe is not safe amid slow start

Jason Soutar
Eddie Howe looks on during a Premier League match.
Eddie Howe looks on during a Premier League match.

Andy Cole insists “you just never know what’s going to happen” but expects Eddie Howe to be “given time” at Newcastle United despite their poor start to the season.

Newcastle smashed Aston Villa 5-1 at St James’ Park in their opening Premier League fixture of 2023/24 but have lost all three top-flight games since.

A defeat at Manchester City was understandable but there were some worrying signs in their 2-1 home loss to Liverpool and 3-1 drubbing at Brighton last Saturday.

Obviously, Howe and Newcastle massively overachieved last season, finishing fourth in the Premier League to qualify for the Champions League.

Football is a brutal sport, however, and you never know what is around the corner, even if everything seemed hunky dory not so long ago.

Former Magpies striker Cole was asked about the club’s slow start to the season, noting that Howe is “under a bit of pressure”, such is the nature of the beast these days.

“Nothing surprises me,” Cole told Betfred. “When it comes to owners and fans wanting results, if you’re not getting results then the clubs are going to look for someone else regardless of whether they’re ahead of schedule or not.

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“If Newcastle United come back after the international break and lose another league game and lose in the Champions League, then that’s not the start that anybody connected with Newcastle would have wanted, so Eddie would be under a bit of pressure. That’s the game we’re in.

“If you look at a lot of the clubs that have been taken over, the first manager usually lasts around a year. Using Manchester City as an example, Mark Hughes was the first manager of their project and then Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini followed him before they eventually got Pep Guardiola.

“Eddie Howe has done a fantastic job, but football is driven by results and despite the fact that I do believe he will be given time, you just never know what’s going to happen.”

Newcastle were handed the group of death in the Champions League, being drawn against French champions Paris Saint-Germain, last season’s semi-finalists AC Milan and German giants Borussia Dortmund.

Cole expects it to be very tough for the Geordies, with the tricky European fixtures likely to hinder their domestic form as well.

“First and foremost, Newcastle United are in the group of death,” Cole added.

“They’ve got themselves back in the Champions League, ahead of schedule, and they wouldn’t have expected to be in a group like that.

“Their form in the league hasn’t been as good as Eddie Howe would have expected it to be, so it’s going to be tough for them.

“They’re going to have to play some really good stuff if they’re going to get out of that group but it’s Champions League football, so anything’s possible.

“You’ve got to respect the big clubs you’re facing but at the end of the day, anything can happen when two clubs face off against each other in the Champions League.

“Anything’s possible and I wouldn’t write off their chances but I believe the increased number of fixtures could potentially have an impact on their league form.”

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