sport news CRAIG HOPE: Newcastle were right to have no interest in Erik ten Hag two years ... trends now
Erik ten Hag was one of the names linked by agents with Newcastle’s new owners following the club’s takeover. Not that they needed proof, but the sight of Eddie Howe’s second-string toying with Manchester United’s broken strings was a reminder of how right they got their appointment and, by contrast, how badly wrong it has gone for the Dutchman.
Two Uniteds - one exactly that, the other disbanded. What would the fractured version give to have Howe on the touchline and Dan Ashworth in the stands, as was the case at Old Trafford on Wednesday during Newcastle’s 3-0 victory in the Carabao Cup?
In just two years, Newcastle’s owners have rebuilt a football club. In close to 20 years, the Glazers have pulled one down. One of these Uniteds used to be a proud institution, the other a mental institution. You can flip that now.
Football clubs have always been about the right people in the right places, as Graeme Souness routinely states on these pages. In head coach Howe and sporting director Ashworth, Newcastle have competence and credibility.
They are, with the kindest of meaning, football squares taken very seriously in football circles. The clowns have left the circus at St James’ Park.
Eddie Howe masterminded a brilliant victory away at Man United on Wednesday night
Howe's much-changed side displayed the squad's togetherness and continued progress under his management
Sporting director Dan Ashworth has also been key to the recent success of the Magpies
Man United do not have the equivalent of Ashworth - quite literally, no one in that role - and you could almost extend that to Howe, a manager who exposes his players to myriad avenues for improvement and, at the same time, protects them fiercely. Man United do not have that, either.
Ten Hag has entered dangerous territory, publicly giving his players a boot up the backside in a bid to preserve his own. Managers who do that usually find a knife a little higher than their behind.
Around Howe, meanwhile,