Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe is making a habit of getting the best out of previously underperforming players at St. James’ Park.
He turned Joelinton into a box-to-box machine in midfield after the Brazilian struggled up front and he has masterminded Miguel Almiron’s resurgence this season.
The Paraguay international scored once and failed to provide a single assist in 30 Premier League matches last season and has burst into life this term with four strikes in nine games so far – including two in the recent thrashing of Brentford.
Howe has adopted an attacking style of play at Newcastle with his side able to dominate possession and pass through teams whilst also having the tactical nous to sit deep and break quickly when needed.
This allows forward players to thrive in the final third and it makes you wonder whether the ex-Bournemouth manager could have got more out of some of the club’s previous flops.
Steve McClaren splashed out £13m to sign Florian Thauvin from Marseille in the summer of 2015 and the Frenchman struggled to make his mark in the top flight as he made just 13 appearances and failed to score or assist a goal.
He joined the club after scoring five times and assisting seven in 33 Ligue 1 outings in 2014/15 but he was unable to showcase the best of his abilities in England before heading back to his former club on loan in the second half of the campaign.
Newcastle were ultimately relegated from the Premier League under Rafa Benitez after McClaren’s departure, and Thauvin was sent out on loan to Marseille again for 2016/17 before sealing a permanent move back to France at the end of that campaign.
McClaren’s team was described as a possession-based side that lacked the pressing work off the ball to make the most of their ability but Howe has instilled a pressing philosophy to win the ball back in good areas to allow forwards to thrive at the top end of the pitch.
Whilst Almiron is catching the eye in the current attacking set-up, Thauvin’s sublime numbers for Marseille as a left-footed right winger – just like the former MLS man – suggest that he would have been perfect for Howe’s attacking style.
The Frenchman consistently delivered goals and assists in Ligue 1 after leaving Newcastle and it is a shame that the club did not have a manager like the Englishman in charge at that time as he could have gotten the best out of him in the Premier League.
Journalist Josh Bunting previously described him as being “magnificent” and that is exactly what he would have been for the Magpies if he had been managed by Howe’s attacking, pressing, football as he could have had the chances in possession to make a big contribution in the final third.