Thursday night will have been one full of mixed emotions for Newcastle United’s Anthony Gordon.
The result was settled without Gordon, with the Magpies leading 4-1 before he was introduced.
The 22-year-old did eventually come on, with Eddie Howe making a double change in the 87th minute. It was Callum Wilson and Joe Willock off, Gordon and Elliot Anderson on.
It made a miserable night even worse for Everton fans, as the remaining supporters inside Goodison Park booed the winger every time he touched the ball.
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All sentiment was gone, and Gordon was seen celebrating wildly as the Toon players headed back into the dressing room.
But for a while it did not look like he was going to play at all. Now the Newcastle manager has explained why he brought Gordon on so late in the game.
Eddie Howe hopes Anthony Gordon can ‘move on’ after Everton return
Howe spoke to the Northern Echo after the game, and was asked about Gordon’s return to Goodison Park.
“I’m guessing here, but I’d imagine it was difficult for him,” he said.
“I had a chat with him at length yesterday, and I was confident that he would be able to handle the environment after speaking with him.
“I think it was a good time to bring him on, to almost get it out of the way for him really. It’s done now, and the game was pretty much done.
“I think it was a good thing for him to be able to mentally deal with, and he can hopefully move on now and focus on his career with us.”
Great management from Howe
This is an exceptional example of Howe’s man management skills. It will have been a difficult night for Gordon, but Howe made it as easy as possible. He knew it was going to be tough for the Scouser, and managed to have a lengthy chat with him before the game about the situation.
The Toon boss was able to protect the January signing, but made the right call to bring him on when he did. He needed to get out there and play against his former club – he needed to face the music.
But the game was over at that point, so the pressure was off. Gordon did not do much when he came on. He was professional, and that will have delighted Howe.
With the drama of returning to Merseyside over, hopefully we can now see Gordon step up is game in the coming weeks.