NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has revealed he was one of Erik ten Hag’s biggest fans before he took the Manchester United job, as the pair prepare to lock horns this afternoon.
The Magpies head to Old Trafford looking to secure only their second win against the Red Devils since the 1970s, but do so having lost just once — an added-time defeat at Liverpool — in their opening 10 games in all competitions.
And Howe has opened up about how he is a keen admirer of the Dutchman, particularly for his work in the Eredivisie with Ajax.
“Erik’s philosophy — I loved watching his team at Ajax — I think he built the club to a very, very strong position when he left. I’ve got no doubt he’ll do the same at Manchester United,” said Howe.
“Technically, Manchester United have excellent players and (they are) very creative.
“For us, going into this game, we know that is a huge part of their team. They’ve got world-class players in every position.
“We’re under no illusions it’s a very difficult task for us but when you look back to our games against Manchester City and Liverpool, we’ve given a really good display and been unlucky not to take more points from those games. This is in a similar bracket to that type of challenge. Hopefully we can raise our levels.”
Talk this week has been dominated by Bruno Guimaraes’ admission that he held talks with 14-time European Cup winners Real Madrid in the summer, but wants to remain at Newcastle.
Speaking after the 5-1 win over Bournemouth, in which he scored a brace, the Brazilian said: “I never doubted the project, I believe in it. I always wanted to play in the Premier League and I am now just enjoying that.
“The ground love me and I love them. I want to keep going. I want to be a legend here.
“Real Madrid is the best team in the world — it is nice. But it is just a conversation, it is nothing.”
The former Lyon ace, only signed by the Magpies in January, is in talks to sign a new deal at Newcastle as the club attempt to ward off interest in their star asset.
“We desperately want Bruno to first be happy here, to enjoy his football and see a long-term vision here,” said Howe.
“Time will tell on that. We have to get the team in a good place and build positively.
“As long as the player sees progression in the team and sees an ambition in the club, hopefully we can fulfil the needs of everybody here because we want to build a team.
“We’re in the very early stages, so we don’t want to disrupt the group we have, we want to add quality the other way. That’s the aim.”
Premier League fans have been joking on social media that Guimaraes has now overtaken Bruno Fernandes as the best “Bruno” in the division.
Howe’s thoughts on that one?
“I think Bruno Fernandes is a fantastic player. They actually have a lot of similarities to their games. Both are technically very good. Maybe Bruno Fernandes plays a little bit higher up the pitch, but our Bruno can do exactly the same,” said the Newcastle boss.
“He has the versatility of playing deeper. They are two great technicians and I enjoy watching both of them play.”