Wow. Big shock result in England today …
As my good friend Jonny Garner publishes his report card on how the Celtic manager has done so far, the guy we spent the summer chasing has had a dose of horrible reality as the Billionaires Club he manages has just been turfed out of the FA Cup by lowly Cambridge United, at home.
Eddie Howe has presided over his first disaster.
The club’s owners must have watched that today in a mixture of disbelief and horror. How could it have happened? And is this further proof that we have well and truly dodged a bullet here?
Because it’s the FA Cup there are people who will offer an alibi for his disgrace and a little benefit of the doubt.
But a home game against lower league opposition would be bad enough, on its own, if that club was still owned by Mike Ashley; the owners have big plans for them, and those plans did not involve any early reversal of this magnitude.
Howe is a weird fit for their club and their alleged ambitions.
Right from the off, it seemed like the sort of appointment you made to get some temporary stability rather than to shoot yourself into the stratosphere. The result is dreadful in so many ways.
Not least of which is that last season Cambridge were playing in League Two … they are three full tiers below their Premiership scalp, and last season were four down. And they managed that win in spite of that, away, which is rare even in the FA Cup which is known for its shock results. That one is seismic.
Newcastle rallied late, but really, they should never have been in such a shocking position in the first place. It is a lamentable failure on his part, the sort of result that will already have his bosses wondering if they have made the right choice.
That pressure will only increase. I never thought that it would end well for him there; the fit was all wrong.
But I know why he took it on.
That club itself are the ones who would suffer if ended badly, and horribly. If they develop an early reputation for butchering managers and sackings they will struggle to attract a quality candidate.
If they get relegated, the brand is massively devalued, and although I very much doubt their sovereign wealth fund guys are going to cut and run they would have gotten off to the worst possible start and the sort of one that would make anyone wonder if they’d bought the wrong club. Newcastle has been a mess for years.
If they thought it was an easy fix, it’s wakeup time.
And for Howe?
Well I bet he wishes he could wake up right about now, because that is an appalling result and one that will haunt him for a while to come. He, too, has had the biggest possible wakeup call and we are, again, pondering our good fortune.
Ange may not have been the first choice, but he was the right one.