Eddie Howe loves Kevin Keegan but will be frustrated with comparisons between his and the 1990s side under Keegan as well as his current team’s ‘identity of chaos’

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  • Eddie Howe will be wary of comparisons with former Magpies manager Keegan
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Eddie Howe loves Kevin Keegan, but he will not love the comparison to his team of the 1990s.

The Entertainers won hearts and minds but not trophies. That was part of the charm. It was safe to celebrate the bridesmaids.

Last season, no one liked Howe’s side and that was just how he liked it. They were a relentless, belligerent bunch, built on structure and system.

Their identity of late is one of chaos, calmed by moments of inspiration, such as here at the City Ground when Bruno Guimaraes cut through the mayhem to score twice and win his team the game.

But Howe knows that is unsustainable. They are scoring and conceding goals faster than Keegan’s cavalier vintage and the 39 shipped this season is six more than during the entirety of last.

Eddie Howe let out some pent-up emotion on the final whistle as Newcastle beat Forest

Eddie Howe let out some pent-up emotion on the final whistle as Newcastle beat Forest

Kevin Keegan managed Newcastle on two ocassions, starting in 1991 and returning in 2008

Kevin Keegan managed Newcastle on two ocassions, starting in 1991 and returning in 2008

You cannot deny they are fun to watch, even if their coaching staff would disagree. It was telling when Howe celebrated with supporters by taking leave of his usual restrain and punching the air repeatedly. That was relief, a release of emotion at the end of a game they could easily have lost.

It was informative in that the manager did that only once last year, on the final day of the season when Champions League football was already secured.

That campaign was about control and consistency. This time around, even Howe finds himself swept up in the anarchy of it all. Yes, he should enjoy a wild victory such as this and fans are fully behind their boss. He, however, would prefer a far greater degree of certitude about his team.

Spirit, endeavour and moments of quality are a given, but the team’s functionality is not. For Howe, that is frustrating.

Until injured bodies return and new ones are recruited in key positions in the summer, bedlam is likely to reign. Howe has to make the best of what he has got between now and the end of the season and in doing so find a way to return European football.

Newcastle have had a chaotic time this season, suffering injuries to key players and inconsistent performances

Newcastle have had a chaotic time this season, suffering injuries to key players and inconsistent performances

Remarkably, they are just five points worse off than at this stage last year and, in seven remaining home matches, Tottenham are the only visitors from the top six. A season that was in danger of unravelling, and saw them fall to 10th, can still be salvaged, especially if aligned to an FA Cup run. They travel to Blackburn in the fifth round in a fortnight.

Whatever happens, it will be an entertaining ride, for when a team’s strengths and weaknesses are so glaring week on week, it does make for a good watch. Their 24 matches this season have brought a league-high 89 goals.

Howe is going to have to buckle up and enjoy that, even if it is far removed from his ideals.

MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS

NOTTINGHAM FOREST (4-2-3-1): Sels 5; Williams 7, Niakhate 6, Murillo 6.5, Tavares 7; Yates 6 (Reyna 73min, 6), Dominguez 6.5 (Danilo 78); Elanga 7, Gibbs-White 7, Hudson-Odoi 7; Awoniyi 6.5 (Origi 68, 6). 

Scorers: Elanga 26, Hudson-Odoi 45+6. 

Booked: Gibbs-White. 

Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo 6.5.

NEWCASTLE (4-3-3): Dubravka 5; Trippier 7, Schar 6.5, Botman 6.5, Burn 6; Longstaff 7, GUIMARAES 8, Miley 6.5 (Livramento 81); Almiron 5 (Barnes 60, 6.5), Wilson 6, Gordon 6.5 (Krafth 90). 

Scorers: Guimaraes 10, 66, Schar 43. 

Booked: Botman, Wilson. 

Manager: Eddie Howe 6.5.

Referee: Anthony Taylor 7. 

Attendance: 29,451.

Source: Daily Mail

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