Newcastle United are thriving under Eddie Howe.
Miracle worker? Well, I would certainly say he is in football terms.
He hasn’t turned water into wine, BUT he has transformed a group of demoralized players into a formidable team, helped of course by the addition of some stunning value for money signings.
The current first team that have all started against Arsenal, Leicester, Fulham and Crystal Palace since the turn of the year…
Six of the ten outfield players were already at St James’ Park before Eddie Howe arrived.
Eight of the thirteen outfield players used at Selhurst Park were inherited by Eddie Howe.
Whilst five of this first choice starting eleven (Burn, Longstaff, Schar, Trippier and Pope) cost a combined £38m in transfer fees.
Newcastle United haven’t exactly recruited that team of money no issue Galacticos that the experts were insisting would automatically happen, when these current owners arrived.
Anyway, whilst Eddie Howe and the club have got so much right so far in this past year (exactly a year ago today, Newcastle United won only their second match of the season (all competitions) after 23 attempts, the win at Leeds meant it was only two victories in 21 PL matches but it at least gave some hope that relegation might be swerved), there are or course still more pieces of the jigsaw that need adding.
Top of the list for most Newcastle United fanscertainly appears to be adding individuals who can score the goals and provide the assists that the team are currently struggling to produce, that bit of quality, composure and precision in the final third.
The major sticking point of course is that those kind of players are also the most expensive.
A lot of names are mentioned, with the shameless media happy to endlessly list imminent signings that Newcastle United are allegedly already in talks with to sign…no explanation of course by any journalist when for the 50th time this window nothing actually materialises.
I have good news though.
Newcastle United have already identified two players to help solve the goals and assists problem.
Best of all, no transfer fees will be needed. Zero cost on that front for the club.
I can ‘exclusively’ unveil…Alexander Isak and Allan Saint-Maximin.
You might recognize the names…
Yes, now they are both fully fit, I think Eddie Howe’s plan for the second part of the season will see this pair now starting regularly.
A lot of nonsense is talked about Allan Saint-Maximin and how he is supposedly not to be relied upon and all the rest. Well, when it comes to scoring goals and getting assists I think safe to say he can be relied upon a whole lot more than almost anybody else in this Newcastle United squad (I’m amazed how quickly fans forget that in his last two PL starts , ASM was man of the match and created all three goals in the 3-3 v Man City, then was NUFC’s biggest attacking threat and scored the spectacular volleyed equalizer at Wolves).
He looks to be fully over the injuries / illness / fitness issues and honestly, if he could still manage to score and create goals when Steve Bruce had the whole team defending around their own box the vast majority of matches, the only attacking plan to give ASM the ball next to his own penalty area and expect him to do something, then I think fair to say he can be scoring and assisting in this Eddie Howe side.
He is still only 25 and when you look at his entire playing record so far (stats via Whoscored) in club football, domestic leagues and European competitions (Champions League and Europa League), Allan Saint-Maximin has started 174 games (plus 55 sub appearances). scoring 27 goals and getting 31 assists.
That is 58 direct goal involvements, working out at exactly one every three starts.
As for Alexander Isak, considering he is easily the club’s record signing (£59m plus £4m potential future add-ons), it is pretty amazing how little so many Newcastle fans know about him, or indeed how little they have debated him.
I know this is significantly due to the fact he got injured so early on BUT he is a seriously good player.
He is still only 23 and when you look at his entire playing record so far (stats via Whoscored) in club football, domestic leagues and European competitions (Champions League and Europa League), Alexander Isak has started 122 games (plus 51 sub appearances). scoring 62 goals and getting 12 assists.
That is 74 direct goal involvements, working out at almost two every three starts.
I foresee Allan Saint-Maximin starting regularly on the left, with Alexander Isak also starting week in week out. With his versatility the Swede can play either instead of Callum Wilson through the middle, or out wide instead of Miguel Almiron…with also maybe a bit of license to roam and create even more danger for the opposition defences.
I think ASM and Isak playing regularly will undoubtedly increase the goal output. It may well also increase the goals granted column to an extent BUT nowhere near as much to the same degree.