After the doom and gloom under his predecessor Steve Bruce, the former Bournemouth boss – as well as the club’s new owners – have helped to revive the positivity surrounding St James’ Park, with the Magpies finally beginning to look up rather than over their shoulder.
The 44-year-old had walked into a club that had endured a winless start to the 2021/22 campaign under Bruce, with the Tynesiders five points from safety after 11 games played amid very real fears of a return to the Championship.
That strong form has continued in the early weeks of the new season with the club having picked up seven points from their opening six league games, notably going toe-to-toe in a barnstorming 3-3 draw with champions Manchester City.
While his tenure thus far has not been perfect, the one-time Burnley boss has instilled new life into what is something of a sleeping giant, having been praised for his “top-class job” by Pep Guardiola.
It could all have been so different, however, had the club potentially gone for a more glamourous, yet flawed, appointment in the form of Paulo Fonseca, with the Portuguese coach having seemingly been a concrete candidate for the role last year.
One report suggested that the former Roma boss even thought that he was going to be named as Bruce’s successor, only for PIF to instead turn to former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, before eventually settling on Howe.
A figure without Premier League experience, it could well have proved disastrous had the 49-year-old been handed the top job, particularly at a time when the club were in the midst of a relegation dogfight.
It only requires a look at Aston Villa’s ultimately doomed appointment of Remi Garde in 2015 to see that it could well have been a nightmare scenario for Newcastle, with the Frenchman having ultimately steered the Midlands side out of the division after struggling in his first taste of English football.
As for Fonseca, while he has been praised for his dressing room demeanour, European football expert Andy Brassell suggested that he can struggle when under pressure, having endured a difficult spell during his time at the Stadio Olimpico.
Journalist Fabrizio Romano also suggested that the one-time Shakhtar Donetsk coach had a “problem” against the bigger sides during his time in Italy, having somewhat failed to deliver when the scrutiny was at its highest.
His shortcomings have also been laid bare at current side Lille, with the French outfit notably having been on the receiving end of a 7-1 hammering at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain earlier this season, showing a worrying inability to compromise despite the onslaught from the Parisien outfit.
In the case of Howe, the typically forward-thinking coach somewhat rowed back on his progressive philosophy in order to get results upon his appointment, understanding that it takes time to implement a new style of play in such a competitive league.
At present, appointing the Amersham-born visionary has proven a real masterstroke, while opting against that man Fonseca appears to be a bullet dodged.