Eddie Howe is braced for a difficult start at Newcastle United, but isn’t fearful of the tricky fixtures on the horizon.
Two of his opening three games are against newly-promoted teams in Brentford and Norwich. This gives Howe a decent chance to get off to a good start at St James’ Park.
However, things start to get difficult with a horrible run starting on December 12th.
The Magpies’ fixture list reads: Leicester away, Liverpool away, Manchester City at home, Manchester United at home, Everton away.
Five really tough games within less than three weeks before the turn of the year. It’s not ideal for Howe, but he remains unfazed by the challenge on the horizon.
“Yes, December is on paper very difficult, but thankfully the games aren’t played on paper,” Howe told Sky Sports.
“The most important thing is to improve results, get points, stay in the league. There’s no other objective this season.”
Eddie Howe attitude will please Newcastle fans
For too long, Toon fans have gone into games expecting to get absolutely nothing. That’s the way things have gone since Rafa Benitez left the club.
In games against big clubs, too often we sit back and simply wait to get beat. Sometimes we do it against teams who are in and around us.
Even against Brighton on Saturday, the first half saw us camped in our own half seemingly unwilling to try and attack. Fortunately that changed in the second half.
Howe’s simple comment of ‘games aren’t played on paper’ isn’t profound. It’s been said time and time again by managers up and down the country at all different levels.
But that doesn’t make it any less impactful. It will give supporters a reason to believe. Hope that there will be a clear plan to get something out of the games against the big boys.
Of course, Bruce did have joy against the ‘big six’ at times himself. That can’t be disputed. He picked up big 1-0 wins against Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea, while his side drew twice with Liverpool last season.
But as time went on, the belief began to disappear.
Howe can restore that belief, and he clearly has intentions to do just that. However, he needs to prove they aren’t just empty words.