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They played the Sixties hit Just Like Eddie in the seconds before kick-off.
Perhaps the stadium DJ had not considered the lyrics, ‘Whenever you’re sad, whenever you’re blue, whenever your troubles are heavy’. Then again, he’s been here a long time, so maybe he had.
How appropriate those words felt just 10 minutes later when Ciaran Clark’s brainless indiscretion reduced Newcastle to 10 men. Eddie Howe looked stunned, even instructing his centre-back to remain on the field in the vain hope of a VAR reversal.
But this has long been a football club prone to calamity. For seasoned observers, there was no surprise whatsoever in the ghastly sight of another self-inflicted wound. They had come out all guns blazing and shot themselves straight in the foot. Welcome to Tyneside, Eddie.
Ciaran Clark’s brainless foul to send Newcastle down to 10 men was nothing new on Tyneside
Eddie Howe has his work cut out as the size of his task was illustrated at his first home game
It had all the makings of a sorry night when Newcastle’s position at the bottom of the Premier League was about to look a whole lot worse.
But the reaction of the crowd was different to how it might have been under previous owners and management. They were not about to give up on Howe and their team because of one defensive lapse. Goodness, they are used to them by now.
Instead, they sought to inspire those on the pitch, and the source of their fervour was undoubtedly the new man on the touchline.
Howe has never experienced adulation like this. His first home match in charge of Bournemouth was in front of 5,946. Even in the Premier League their average gate was a little more than 10,000.
A 50,000 strong crowd got behind their new coach, even after Norwich scored the equaliser
Here, 50,000 sung his name, and right from kick-off there was a two-minute rendition of ‘Eddie Howe’s black and white army’.
Earlier, a banner was unfurled bearing the words, ‘Make each day your masterpiece’. It was a reference to a message Howe has printed on his office wall. It was not lost on the manager, either. He duly wandered onto the turf and waved to all four corners of St James’ Park, a belated introduction given his Covid-enforced absence for the 3-3 home draw with Brentford 10 days previous.
Howe had heard the fans celebrating Newcastle’s goals from the isolation of his riverside hotel room that afternoon. In fact, the roar was a split-second ahead of his live stream.
Callum Wilson’s opener from the penalty spot brought a passionate celebration from Howe
Not this time. His reaction to Callum Wilson’s opening goal – dropping to his haunches with his fists clenched – was instantaneous.
What unfolded thereafter served as evidence as to why Newcastle under Howe could survive, and also why they may not.
Those in black and white crunched through a series of challenges in defence of their fragile advantage, and the fans responded in equal gusto. It was proof of the renewed togetherness which Howe has spoken about fostering since his arrival last month.
But then came the all-too-familiar sight of a defensive slip costing them dear. They were still singing Howe’s name when Teemu Pukki smashed Norwich’s equaliser on the back of an error by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Conceding a late goal will be a sickener for Howe but he’ll still be uplifted by the performance
It was a sickener for Howe given he had corralled his troops into a winning position with just 11 minutes remaining, never once leaving his technical zone.
But while he might not have thought beforehand that a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich would be a platform from which to build, this felt more uplifting than deflating for those of a black-and-white persuasion, even if they do remain in desperate trouble at the foot of the table.
Howe set off on a lap of appreciation on full-time, and those in the stands responded. But on a night that threatened to be ruinous, it will be the response of his players which cheered him most.
Source: DailyMail Sports