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Blackburn Rovers (a)

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Good to see 110 million pounds worth of player on the bench!

Thought we would see Barnes tonight, fully expected Howe to revert to playing Burn as he clearly doesn't want to contemplate Livramento or Hall, but I don't agree with it.

We should win tonight, I don't see a banana skin here at all, I expect a comfortable victory.
Well, the victory came, eventually, and we march on to the next round where, on tonight's performance, defeat surely awaits us.  I feel I can say with some confidence, that every single player we put out tonight was a "better" player than those that Blackburn put out; and yet...

I didn't think our players were terrible or lacked commitment and effort (apart from Passenger 36 Longstaff for much of the game), so why did we labour so badly against Blackburn Rovers tonight?  It's a genuine question and in my opinion it has to do with how we play, or rather are set-up to play, and how we never deviate from that.  Not one inch.  Thankfully there was extra-time and penalties to give us a win.  If not for that we would have come away with a draw.  Let that sink in.  A draw away to Blackburn Rovers, a club in 16th place in the Championship and with just 2 wins from the previous 16 league matches.

Our manager obviously lacks the guile to deal with teams who play like Blackburn did tonight, that is to say, to play against any team which comes at us with intensity and a high press.  So another genuine question: Should Eddie Howe still be NUFC manager at the start of next season?

I'd be interested to hear what you all think.
I am still on the fence about whether he should or not.

We have all supported this club for an unhealthy amount of time, during which we have had some desperate, dark and uninspiring days where the club has been rotten to the core. Right now we are watching performances akin to a club in turmoil off the pitch, yet here we are just over 2 years into a new ownership where it should be anything but.

I can't help but feel the summer transfer window, the Ashworth situation and the fact that our owners who used to be visible all the time last season, home or away, are barely seen these days, leads me to think there have been off the field issues which are contributing more than we might think. Add in the fact that Amanda Staveley reduced her shares from 10% to 6% during this time and to me there are issues off the pitch we are not privy to. This is just my observation, I haven't read or seen anything to suggest there is off the field unreset, but that huge feeling of unity we had last campaign just doesn't feel there to me this season.

I know this is very much stuck record territory, but we should have 4 first team players in that team that were signed last summer, and instead we have three subs and a gambling addict, one of which we absolutely didn't need, two of which were bought for the future and the other who the jury is very much still out on. To be looking so far down the line when we were in desperate need to upgrade first team options was a mistake of monumental proportions, and how much you want to blame Howe for that is entirely dependant on how much say and how much sway you think he had.

What is clear is that Howe can't get a tune from these players and hasn't done for a long time now, he is stubborn with the system which isn't working, his changes mid-game appear pre-scripted rather than proactive/reactive to the game as it develops and I honestly don't know if he is the man to take this club beyond a 7th-10th place finish on a regular basis.

If he can't turn this around to show that he can motivate this group of players between now and the summer, he is in really big trouble.
I'm not in the sacking group yet but I definitely don't think he should be offered a new contract. I think overall he's fine an excellent job but he's probably taken the team as far as he can. Last season he couldn't beat Leeds and Bournemouth, this season he couldn't beat Luton and Bournemouth. No offense to any of them but we have to be able to put those games away. Then he struggles vs Blackburn. I think it's reasonable to say if we want to continue to improve the club we will need to upgrade the manager in the next two seasons.
I'm still 100% behind Eddie.

Think he's done a great job and that includes this season - where we knew the squad wasn't big enough or strong enough to be in the Champions League, we picked up a boatload of injuries and yet he still managed to deliver some spectacular results.


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