Newcastle defender Dan Burn has insisted Eddie Howe should be in the reckoning for Manager of the Season for what he has achieved since his arrival at St James’ Park.
The 44-year-old was appointed by the club’s new owners in November last year with the Magpies five points adrift of Premier League safety and without a single win to their name.
On Wednesday evening they reached the 40-point mark to drag themselves 15 clear of the drop zone after a sixth successive top-flight victory on Tyneside – something they last achieved in 2004 under Sir Bobby Robson
🗣 "The challenge never stops. We have to keep going and being very professional and try to win more games. We know we can't drop our levels for a second."— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 21, 2022
And it is that feat which Burn believes bears comparison with those of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
He said: “Yes, I agree with those who say he is a real contender when you see what he has done.
“When you come in and turn it around the way he has, just the mentality, the way we train, the sense of real togetherness he has brought, photos after winning games, just little things like that… It has brought the fans and the players closer together. We are all pulling in the same direction.
“You have the likes of Klopp and Guardiola, but I think what he has done is equally impressive. Obviously, it is a different job he has done, but a huge achievement from the state the club was in.
“To get to 40 points with five games to go is monumental.”
Howe, of course, had the benefit of a £90milion January spending spree to help him reshape a misfiring squad – Burn’s capture from Brighton accounted for £13m of that – but the way in which he has blended his new arrivals with men he inherited and has since elevated has been hugely impressive.
Everyone is buzzing to see what the future will bring. That is why we had to stay upNewcastle defender Dan Burn
Newcastle won none of their first 14 games – no Premier League side has ever survived after such a start – but have taken victories from nine of the last 13 to leave supporters dulled by years of under-achievement under previous owner Mike Ashley dreaming of what the future may hold.
As a youngster, Blyth-born Burn, now 29, watched from the stands as the club competed in the Champions League, and although he is too young to remember their famous 3-2 victory over Barcelona in 1997, his own memories have been rekindled by the atmosphere he and his team-mates have created in recent weeks.
He said: “I’m too young to remember Barcelona. It’s those games against Inter Milan, Bayer Leverkusen, games like that – and the atmosphere and positivity now feels like that.
“It’s just the hope. Everyone is buzzing to see what the future will bring. That is why we had to stay up. We are not mathematically done yet, but we’re well on our way.”