Newcastle United’s owners are glad they were snubbed by Unai Emery as they now hope Eddie Howe can be “the next Alex Ferguson” at St James’ Park.
Having sacked the unpopular Steve Bruce in October – one match after the club’s takeover by a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund – Newcastle identified Emery and Howe as leading candidates for their head coaching role.
Emery was approached first, only to back out, leaving Howe to take charge of a struggling team threatened with relegation.
Gradually, Howe has turned the tide on Tyneside, with Newcastle entering Saturday’s match at Brentford on an unbeaten run that spans six league matches and more than two months. They are the only top-flight team without a single defeat since Christmas Day.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic, Newcastle director Mehrdad Ghodoussi said chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan wanted Howe “from day one”.
And Al-Rumayyan’s fellow board members are now convinced Howe was the right choice.
In the same interview with The Athletic, Amanda Staveley, Ghodoussi’s wife and business partner, said: “It would have been wrong [to appoint Emery].
“We made the right decision with Eddie. He’s come in, no airs or graces, no ego, and we’re there to support him. I’ve really grown to care a great deal about him and his coaches.
“We talk to Eddie multiple times a day. I’m fascinated by what he does. He’s so detailed, so hard working. You don’t know when you’re interviewing someone what they’re going to be like but he’s got huge integrity.”
Howe is just 14 games into his Newcastle tenure, but Ghodoussi added: “I would love Eddie to be the next Alex Ferguson.”
The Newcastle directors also discussed the January transfer window, claiming Sven Botman and Jesse Lingard each wanted to join the club. Botman could yet sign at the end of the season.
Kieran Trippier was one new arrival and had an instant impact, scoring two goals and being handed the captain’s armband within four league appearances before sustaining a foot fracture.
Trippier has certainly impressed the Newcastle board, as Staveley said: “He’s so professional, so fit. I’ve been so impressed.
“To be honest, Kieran isn’t someone we’ll ever sell. I’ve said to him, ‘You’re with us and that’s it. You can be our Alan Shearer. You’ll be a standard-bearer for Newcastle for many years to come’.
“If he can play, he will stay, and I believe you might find he’ll still be playing in five years’ time because he’s capable of it. He’s got something extraordinary.”