Like every Newcastle United fan, Eddie Howe will have been relieved to see the Magpies rescue a point against Brighton on Saturday.
Newcastle were woeful in the first 45 minutes, barely laying a glove on Brighton. They simply sat back and invited pressure, eventually conceding a penalty that Leandro Trossard converted.
It was a terrible performance. Something had to change. Fans were saying it. The commentators and pundits on BT Sport were saying it.
Fortunately, things did change. Newcastle were much better in the second half. They played higher up the pitch with a bit more intensity, and would have won it had it not been for Roberto Sanchez cynically scything down Callum Wilson.
Howe watched the game alongside Amanda Staveley, and will surely be encouraged by what he saw in the second half.
The 43-year-old will know he needs to fix the side’s defensive woes, but he’ll have noticed another concerning issue on Saturday evening.
Allan Saint-Maximin has struggled in recent weeks
While Newcastle fans have spent the last month celebrating the takeover, the performances have continued to disappoint.
And one player who has really struggled in recent weeks is Allan Saint-Maximin.
The Frenchman was incredibly quiet on Saturday night, with Brighton getting plenty of bodies around him as soon as he got possession.
Graham Potter’s side found a way of nullifying Saint-Maximin, something that every Premier League side will be trying to do. That’s been a big concern for Newcastle, because for a long time our plan has been ‘give it to Saint-Maximin and hope for the best’.
That will need to change under Howe. The new man will either need to find a way of getting more out of Saint-Maximin, or making us less reliant on him.
Really, the two should go hand-in-hand. Whether Howe changes the system or has better plays around Saint-Maximin doing more in possession, there needs to be an improvement from Newcastle’s number 10.
Howe needs to find a way of getting Saint-Maximin in more space, rather than playing with his back to goal. That has been the problem in recent weeks and particularly against Brighton.
With two weeks to go until we face Brentford, Howe should have plenty of time to work with the players and figure out a system that suits the squad best.
And getting the most out of Saint-Maximin will be essential for the new Newcastle manager.