As Eddie Howe arrived on Tyneside to start work as Newcastle United’s new manager on Monday, it emerged that Michael Emenalo could soon be joining him at St James’ Park.
After finally confirming Howe’s appointment, Newcastle are keen to recruit a director of football and Emenalo, the former Nigeria international who previously filled that role at Chelsea and, more recently, at Monaco is now the front-runner after being interviewed by the club’s Saudi Arabian majority shareholders in Jeddah last week.
More immediately, Howe is anxious to get started on the training pitch before Brentford’s visit on Saturday week. With his new team second bottom of the Premier League and without a win in any competition all season, the former Bournemouth manager knows he needs to hit the ground running.
“This is a wonderful opportunity but there is also a lot of work ahead of us and I’m eager to get onto the training ground to begin working with the players,” said the 43-year-old, who has agreed a two-and-a-half year contract. “It’s a great honour to become head coach of a club with the stature and history of Newcastle United. It’s a very proud day for me and my family.
“I would like to thank the club’s owners for this opportunity and thank the club’s supporters for the incredible welcome they’ve already given me. I am very excited to begin our journey together.”
Amanda Staveley, Newcastle’s co-owner, spearheaded Howe’s recruitment after Villarreal’s Unai Emery changed his mind about moving to St James’ Park last week, and expressed confidence that the man who led Bournemouth from League Two to the Premier League possesses the necessary transformative powers.
“We have been incredibly impressed by Eddie through what has been a rigorous recruitment process,” said Staveley. “As well as his obvious achievements with Bournemouth, where he had a transformational impact, he is a passionate and dynamic coach who has clear ideas about taking this team and club forward.
“He is a great fit for what we are trying to build here. We are delighted to welcome Eddie and his staff to St James’ Park and very much look forward to working together towards our collective ambitions.”
Given that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund are worth around £700bn and own 80% of Newcastle those ambitions are stratospheric but, before Europe can be conquered, relegation must be avoided.
Although there could, conceivably, be as much as £200m to spend in the January transfer window, Howe needs to reach the new year in a position to attract players of the calibre of Atlético Madrid’s England defender Kieran Trippier and will be looking to secure maximum points from forthcoming home games against not only Brentford but Norwich and Burnley.
His appointment was delayed slightly as negotiations over the composition of the club’s backroom staff were finalised. The exact lineup has not yet been revealed but Howe is expected to be joined by his former Bournemouth coaches Jason Tindall, Stephen Purches and Simon Weatherstone on Tyneside with a role also reserved for Steve Bruce’s former assistant, Graeme Jones.
Howe is understood to have impressed Newcastle’s owners immensely by offering a detailed manifesto for change during interviews in which he explained the need to improve the team’s organisation, fitness levels and ability to retain possession.