June 25, 2024

With Dan Ashworth’s exit approaching, Newcastle boss Eddie Howe hopes to gain more control over the club’s transfer plan.
Newcastle United hosted a scouting conference at a Quayside hotel a week ago for their increasing network of global and domestic talent scouts.

It is an area in which they have recently made significant investments, placing “good people” in areas where the club would never have had dedicated personnel previously. Bringing them together provided an opportunity to foster camaraderie while also stressing the club’s recruitment responsibilities ahead of a busy summer.

While transfer window targets must be flexible, Newcastle appear to be pursuing three areas: a dynamic, youthful forward, a midfielder to fill the hole No. 6 is void that has become a chasm at times this season and an adaptable centre-back.

The scouts also met with senior members of the club’s technical staff, including head of recruitment Steve Nickson and Andy Howe, head of first-team technical recruitment, to discuss the club’s defined playing identity and the importance of matching their talent searches with players who fit that profile.


The six deals that have left Newcastle United chiefs delighted with super  scout Steve Nickson - Chronicle Live


Technical players who are versatile and can satisfy the team’s physical needs are in high demand, which aligns with Eddie Howe’s beliefs. The message one scout took away was that the club’s aim to sign “the best players under 25 from around the world” remained unwavering. Upgrades rather than filling squad gaps remain the objective, which is why they passed on low-cost possibilities in January, as well as loan players with significant signing responsibilities.


Day2day - Andy Howe - YouTube


The precise nature of their preparation work may bring some solace to those who were stunned by the magnitude of Arsenal’s setback. It is undeniably a potentially transformative summer, with big decisions ahead. Being well-prepared and ready to perform is not negotiable.

It’s worth noting that Newcastle is investing time, finances, and skill into the football club as they try to catch up. However, when the statistics are as clear as they were on Saturday, any mitigating is weak. Whether trying to catch up or not, Arsenal’s performance was so poor that an urgent and forceful response is required in the FA Cup.

It has occurred several times this season, but this week is the most significant of Newcastle’s campaign. The game against Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night, which will be attended by approximately 7,000 fans in the Darwen End, is a must-win in a competition that will most certainly make or break their season. That comes before a difficult home game against a strong Wolves side, the type of opponents Newcastle has seen this season.

One of Howe’s top concerns is to reduce not only the number of goals conceded by his club – an amazing 19 in seven games, including 12 in their last four – but also the number of chances given up.

Last season, Newcastle allowed 382 shots on goal, which was the sixth fewest in the division. This season, they’ve already conceded 367, the fifth highest in the league. Such a dramatic decrease cannot be attributed solely to the loss of Nick Pope or injuries upsetting defensive rhythm or midfield shape; there is a more alarming and deeper issue that must be addressed.

The growing consensus is that Newcastle must find a new style to play rather than simply moving the pieces around in the current system.

Dan Burn was replaced by Tino Livramento on Saturday, which seemed reasonable given the left-back’s recent targets, but Newcastle struggled to overcome Arsenal’s fierce press.

The ease with which teams play through them has been an issue from the beginning of the season, particularly against higher-caliber opponents in the Champions League but increasingly spreading to games against struggling clubs such as Luton Town and Nottingham Forest.

Part of this is due to experience: at 17, Lewis Miley is outperforming expectations, but he cannot be expected to hold back the tide in a new defensive midfield role against world-class players. Sean Longstaff’s form, which was so impressive earlier in the season, has now plummeted.
These are the things that matter most to Howe, not the soap opera surrounding Manchester United’s Dan Ashworth. The Newcastle manager is said to be unconcerned about the director of football’s upcoming exit, looking for more say in recruitment in any new model the club develops. And it’s impossible not to feel like the club made a mistake by focusing on the future when the present needed to be addressed last year.

For the time being, just the short term concerns. Quieting the noise in Ewood Park is critical.

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