When Eddie Howe was appointed Newcastle United manager, he had plenty of problems to address.
The Magpies hadn’t won a game all season, picking up just five points from their opening 11 games. Howe took over a disjointed team that lacked confidence and the know-how to win a game of football.
They couldn’t defend, while their fitness levels were appalling.
Howe had plenty of issues that needed resolving. And in an interview with Sky Sports, Jonjo Shelvey has shared the first thing the manager did following his arrival – and it may surprise fans.
Eddie Howe – Newcastle’s ‘family orientated’ manager
Rather than talk tactics or build up fitness, Howe’s first task as Newcastle boss was to find out more about his players.
“He’s very family orientated,” Shelvey told Sky Sports.
“His first thing when he came in was – everyone had a sheet of paper and they had to write down their family’s names, their wife’s names their kids’ names and their birthdays.
“I think he wants to get to know everyone and I’ve never had a manager like that. It’s something different and something I enjoy.”
Team spirit at Newcastle is incredible right now
Newcastle United have a group of fighters once again. Their form in 2022 hasn’t been down to liquid football; it’s been about hard work and being difficult to beat.
The players are grafting for each other – even the new arrivals. Howe brought in the right kind of players in January, which was easier said than done.
Newcastle could easily have signed bad eggs with big egos, and it would have been a recipe for disaster. Luckily, that didn’t happen.
The manager’s desire to know more about his players’ families highlights the bond he wants with his squad. They are a tightknit group, which isn’t something you could say in recent years.
Howe’s first act may have been a small one, but it will have meant a lot. That’s certainly how Shelvey took it, and he’s been playing brilliant football since Howe’s arrival.