Eddie Howe had faith in the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test

Eddie Howe put his faith in the Premier League after being offered the Newcastle job by the club’s Saudi-backed owners.

Amanda Staveley’s consortium, in which Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund holds an 80 per cent stake, celebrated a year in charge at St James’ Park on Friday having completed its takeover amid controversy over the source of its wealth.

However, Howe, who was asked to replace Steve Bruce as head coach within weeks, was happy to accept after the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test, which had until the last minute proved a significant hurdle, had been passed.

Asked on Friday if he understood why some people were and still are uncomfortable about that, the 44-year-old, who has been allowed to invest around £210million during his time on Tyneside to date, said: “Yes, I do and I understand the question.

“But for me, the directors’ and owners’ test ratified by the Premier League, I have to have faith in that process.

“Obviously I’ve been the decision-maker behind where some of that money has gone, and I’ve looked at it purely from a football perspective trying to recruit the best players for Newcastle.”

Howe has repeatedly faced questions over the club’s ownership with Amnesty International in particular expressing ongoing concerns over the Gulf state’s human rights record, but has always insisted his focus must remain on football.

He said: “Everything for me is about trying to get the best out of the players that I have every single day, and hopefully that shows when we play.

“I’ve never veered too far from that in my management career and I think that’s vitally important for me.”

For all the criticism levelled at Newcastle and their fans since the takeover, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia remain strategic allies and trading partners and while Howe acknowledged that, he does not feel qualified to enter into political debate.

He said: “If I start engaging in those conversations, I go into an area where I’m not comfortable. I don’t have the knowledge.”

Villarreal's former Arsenal boss Unai Emery turned down the Newcastle job
Villarreal’s former Arsenal boss Unai Emery turned down the Newcastle job (Niall Carson/PA)

Instead, the former Bournemouth boss will concentrate on the job which has seen him, with the help of significant transfer funds, transform Newcastle from relegation certainties to European hopefuls, something he would not have been able to do had first choice Unai Emery accepted the job.

Howe, whose side faces Brentford on Saturday, said: “The moment I found out it was myself and Unai going for the job, I sort of resigned myself that it wasn’t going to be mine for obvious reasons – you look at his track record and the clubs that he’s managed.

“Then it happened very quickly and things changed. You go from thinking what could have been to… Well, I won’t swear, but then the reality of the situation is that you’re going into a club in desperate need of points in a relegation battle, so there’s an immediate realisation that you have to start work.

“You’re in at the deep end, you have to do well.”