Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has revealed he is educating himself over the situation in Saudi Arabia after being criticised for refusing to be dragged into football’s ongoing geopolitical debate.
Howe found himself thrust into the spotlight at the weekend as the situation surrounding Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and the sanctions imposed on him in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine widened to include the 80 per cent stake Saudi Arabia’s Pubic Investment Fund holds in the Magpies after the Gulf state executed 81 people last week.
Asked if he was reading up about the situation, the 44-year-old said: “Yes definitely, I’ve done that and will continue to do so.
“Anyone that’s seen me work behind the scenes knows that I am…to say ‘football-obsessed’ is an understatement and job-obsessed is an understatement.
“Obviously part of my job now in the modern football management scene is to know what’s going on around the world and I will have to do that.
“But football will have to be and will always be my passion and it will always be the main crux of my job – and I think that’s where my time needs to be spent.”
Howe added: “From my perspective – and I’ve always maintained this – my specialist subject is football. It’s what I know, it’s what I’ve trained to do.
“As soon as I deviate from that into an area where I don’t feel qualified to have a huge opinion, I think I go into dangerous ground, so I prefer to stick to what I believe I know.
“I’m hugely proud to represent this football club and the supporters an the city and I’m trying to create a team the city can be proud of and all my energy is going into that and will continue to.”
Howe revealed current affairs has always been part of his life, but admitted his workload has taken a toll.
📺 Eddie Howe pre-#EVENEW press conference is now available to watch in full on NUFC TV.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) March 16, 2022
He said: “I was a footballer with a slight difference. I was 19 or 20 at Bournemouth going onto the team bus with The Times under my arm and getting some very strange looks from my team-mates.
“But I come from a family where things were pushed towards me and I was quite interested in world politics. I had a little more time when I was playing to actually look into it.
“Now that I’m managing, your time is such a scarce resource, really. That is not to say I don’t keep up to date. It is something I will have to dedicate more time to, but it has gone out of my life slightly.”
On the football front, Howe will hope his side can bounce back from a first defeat in 10 Premier League games when they head for struggling Everton on Thursday evening, although he will do so still smarting at the penalty decision which did not go his way at Chelsea on Sunday.
The sides were locked together at 0-0 when Jacob Murphy went down under Trevoh Chalobah’s clumsy challenge in the box and the VAR official opted not to advise referee David Coote to take another look.
Howe, whose team went on to lose 1-0, said: “That is what VAR is there for, to slow the incident down and make sure that the correct decision is reached.
“How that’s not happened with the technology that we have, to this moment I’m still very frustrated by it. People can apologise and say it was a mistake, but it’s a mistake that really shouldn’t be happening when you have the time to make the right call.”