Daily Mail

Fans have faith in the new boss

- CRAIG HOPE at St James’ Park

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 club prone to calamity. For seasoned observers, there was no surprise 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.

it had all the makings of a sorry night when Newcastle’s position at the bottom of the Premier League table was about to look a whole lot worse.

But the reaction of the crowd was different from 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.

here, 50,000 sang his name and right from kick-off there was a two-minute rendition of ‘Eddie howe’s black and white army’.

he duly wandered on to 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 earlier.

here, howe’s reaction to Callum Wilson’s opening goal — dropping to his haunches with his fists clenched — was instantane­ous. What unfolded thereafter served as evidence of 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 with equal gusto. it was proof of the renewed togetherne­ss.

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. it was a sickener for howe given he had corralled his troops into a winning position with just 11 minutes remaining.

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 at 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.

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Gift: Gilmour (No 8) handles to concede a penalty
GETTY IMAGES Gift: Gilmour (No 8) handles to concede a penalty
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