Newcastle winger Allan Saint-Maximin has spoken about what Eddie Howe did to win him over, following the manager’s arrival at St James’ Park.
Howe took charge of the Magpies on November 8, shortly after the departure of lifelong fan Steve Bruce. Howe was brought in to guide Newcastle away from the relegation zone and help their new era to begin in style.
He has done both of those things. Since the Englishman joined, Newcastle have won 11 of their 24 Premier League matches, drawing five more and losing eight.
This dramatic upturn in form has taken Newcastle to 10th spot. They could overtake Brighton and go into ninth if results go their way this weekend.
Howe is seamlessly pairing the existing crop of players with his January signings. For example, Dan Burn and Fabian Schar are forming a solid partnership at centre-back.
One of Howe’s favourite players is Saint-Maximin. The electric forward has missed just three league matches this term. Two of those were due to a knock and the other was down to illness.
During an interview with French outlet So Foot (via Sport Witness), Saint-Maximin was asked about his relationship with Howe.
He revealed the intriguing strategies the manager is using to make the dressing room closer and more positive.
Allan Saint-Maximin heaps praise on Howe
“When he arrived, he gave us a piece of paper and asked us to write down what we loved in life, the names of our kids, things like that,” Saint-Maximin said.
“I must have had minimum seven or eight managers, and I’ve never seen someone do something like that.
“He also instilled moments where each player must speak in front of everyone and tell their life story, talk about their childhood.
There have been very moving moments, we learned a lot of things about our team-mates and staff that we had no idea about. It allowed us to be more together.
“Eddie Howe is really strong at building relationships and you can feel it on the pitch. Without that, I don’t think we would have managed to climb back up the table like we did.”
It’s certainly a clever tactic from Howe to get the players and staff all pulling in the right direction. The club seemed fractured under Bruce, but that feeling has completely gone.
Club chiefs will clearly have ambitions of one day making it into the top six, given their huge financial backing. And an impressive transfer window will be required this summer if they are to reach the next level.
Newcastle return to action on Saturday as they travel to Manchester City at 16:30.
It will be an interesting fixture as the Citizens will be reeling from their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.