Eddie Howe has officially been confirmed as the new manager of Newcastle United and replaces interim boss Graeme Jones with immediate effect.
Jones took charge of three games following Steve Bruce’s exit last month, drawing 1-1 with Crystal Palace and Brighton away from home either side of a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea at St. James’ Park.
Howe arrives with the team sat 19th in the Premier League table and without a single win in 11 matches so far this season.
The ex-Bournemouth head coach could make himself an instant crowd favourite by making one key selection decision in his first match in charge. He must ruthlessly axe centre-back Ciaran Clark from the starting XI as he has been a liability for the club this season and fans will surely be frustrated by his performances.
Clark’s latest outing ended with him giving away a penalty against Brighton in the Premier League. He committed a foul inside the box, albeit a soft one, with Leandro Trossard converting from 12-yards to hand Graham Potter’s side the lead, although the defender did his part to make up for the error by setting up Isaac Hayden’s equaliser.
However, his assist was not enough to detract from the poor standard of his displays this season. He has averaged a dismal SofaScore rating of 6.66 across nine starts, which places him 13th in the Newcastle squad overall – below both Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar. Clark has been keeping the pair out of the side, yet his statistics suggest that he should be the one sitting on the bench in their place.
Those are sentiments that Magpies reporter George Caulkin agrees with. He tweeted during the Brighton match on Saturday: “I don’t understand how Clark, who gave the penalty away, has kept his place in recent matches.”
The £37k-per-week Irishman is putting in disappointing showings on the pitch and fans will surely be frustrated that he is continuing to be selected as potentially better options in Schar and Fernandez wait in the wings. Schar has averaged a rating of 6.75 in the Premier League whilst his Argentine teammate has managed a score of 6.78, suggesting that both of them have played to a higher standard than Clark.
Therefore, Howe could instantly win over the crowd and become a favourite by dropping the dud and starting Fernandez or Schar in place of him for the match against Brentford after the international break. With no wins in 11 matches, something has to change for Newcastle and this move could be the first one Howe makes in order to benefit the side.