Howe’s transformation of Newcastle United through statistics

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe. (Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe. (Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images) /

With only seven games in the books for Newcastle United, the 2022-23 Premier League season has just begun, but the Magpies’ new identity is on display for all to see. From having to wait 14 games to secure their first victory under Steve Bruce last term to only suffering one defeat their first seven games with Eddie Howe, Newcastle United are certainly a team with a new look and new ambitions.

The arrival of talented players, such as Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Sven Botman, Nick Pope, and most recently Alexander Isak, has certainly provided a major injection of quality to the club. However, it is Howe who is utilizing these players, as well as the squad he inherited last November, to perfection in his system.

Prior to Howe’s arrival on Tyneside, Newcastle United were the most predictable team in the top flight. With an ultra-defensive approach that invited constant pressure from the opposition and launching the ball up the field with the hope that one or two counter attacks would be successful, the Magpies were difficult to watch and ranked in the bottom of nearly every statistical category.

Fast-forward the clock into the second half of last season and the story sees the introduction of the 4-3-3 style of play implemented by Howe, which has successfully been carried over by Howe and his coaching staff this year. Just how different does this team look on the field today? Let’s allow the statistics from this early phase of the season to do the talking.

Newcastle United are now a respected Premier League outfit thanks to Eddie Howe’s tactical changes.

Possession is one of those statistics that does not influence the outcome of a game on its own, but this category is extremely important for Newcastle United. The average possession during the Bruce era was in the low-30s, whereas seven games into this season the Toon have increased that number to just under 51%. Fans would have to flip through several calendars to remember the last time a Newcastle United squad was so comfortable with the ball.

To further demonstrate the composure and understanding this team now has in possession, the number of completed passes thus far compared to the numbers from last season are like night and day. With a total of 12,503 passes last season, Newcastle United were ranked 19th out of 20 teams in that category. Through seven games in the 2022-23 campaign, Howe’s men have already achieved 22% of that total (2,774 passes) with 31 games left to play.

The Magpies finished the 2021-22 campaign with 449 shot attempts, which saw them rank 11th in that category. This term, with108 shots in seven games, Newcastle United are only behind Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal. Having created at least 20 chances in four out of seven games this season is an encouraging sign.

This attacking philosophy that is now running through the veins of most players is also providing the back line with a major boost. Not having to be under constant threat by opposing teams has given the Magpies’ defensive unit plenty of time to recover and organize over the course of 90 minutes, and this is reflected in the fact the Newcastle United have already earned three clean sheets this season.

Howe’s transformation of this squad has been remarkable. The standard of quality and intensity before every game is something that was only matched by Kevin Keegan and the Entertainers. The Magpies still have a long journey ahead this season, but they are certainly on the right track to reach new heights this campaign.