Newcastle’s Dan Burn backs Howe as contender for manager of the season | Newcastle United

Dan Burn believes Eddie Howe’s transformation of Newcastle’s fortunes should make him a strong contender to rival Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola for the manager of the season award.

Burn has excelled in central defence since arriving at St James’ Park for £13m from Brighton in January, playing a big part in Newcastle’s rise to the security of 11th place in the Premier League on 40 points.

It now seems hard to credit that when Howe succeeded Steve Bruce in November Newcastle had not won a game and their new Saudi Arabian-led owners were contemplating a chastening relegation.

“It’s some achievement to have gone from where we were when the new ownership came in to our position now,” said the Northumberland-born Burn, who grew up supporting Newcastle. “The atmosphere here now reminds of when I used to come to St James’ Park as kid and watch the team playing in the Champions League.”

If £90m of January signings – Burn, Bruno Guimarães, Chris Wood, Kieran Trippier and the Aston Villa loanee Matt Targett – helped Newcastle’s cause, much of the metamorphosis is down to Howe’s meticulous coaching and man-management.

“After turning it around the way he has, he’s a real contender for manager of the season,” said Burn. “It’s about the mentality he’s brought in, the way we train, the sense of real togetherness he’s created. It’s brought the players and the fans closer together; we’re all pulling in the same direction.

“You’ve got managers like Klopp and Guardiola but what Eddie Howe’s done is equally impressive. It’s a monumental achievement to take this club from the state it was in and to get to 40 points with five games to go.”

Burn was speaking shortly after Newcastle had beaten Crystal Palace 1-0 on Wednesday and Yasir al-Rumayyan, the club’s Saudi-based chairman, had joined other board members, staff and players in posing for one of the celebratory group photographs Howe insists are taken after every victory.

“I knew it was a risk leaving Brighton,” Burn said. “If we’d gone down I might never have played Premier League football again but I fell in love with this club as a kid and I was never going to turn it down. I let my heart rule my head. I was desperate to come here and now everyone’s buzzing about what the future might bring.

“The atmosphere and positivity feels like the old Champions League days. I certainly hope we can finish in the top 10 this season.”

Targett is similarly optimistic. He has impressed hugely at left-back and, like Burn, has no regrets about saying yes to Howe. “It’s been an unbelievable turnaround,” he said. “This club was in quite a dark, dark place until the new owners came in. But the team’s really stepped up under the new manager.

“The first thing I noticed was that training’s really intense. We do certain drills daily so the manager nails what we need to do in certain areas into our heads. But this season has to be just a stepping stone.”

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