Newcastle finished 11th in the Premier League this season, 14 points clear of the relegation zone after looking destined for the drop before the turn of the year – 19th with 11 points from 19 games.

The Magpies had the worst defence at the beginning of 2022 – no Premier League side had conceded more goals (42). But they shored up their backline with Matt Targett arriving from Aston Villa, Kieran Trippier arriving from Atletico Madrid and Dan Burn arriving from Brighton & Hove Albion.

Eddie Howe improved the performances of existing defenders too, turning Fabian Schar and Emil Krafth around after the new year, so Noel Whelan had nothing but praise for the 44-year-old.

He told Football Insider: “They’ve covered the right areas they needed to. Straight away, we knew the defence for Newcastle was shambolic until Eddie Howe came in. He brought the new players, made the changes and they became a lot more solid defensively under Eddie Howe and didn’t lose that attacking flair.”

Newcastle had just one win from their first 19 games of the season but picked up 12 wins from the 19 that followed, conceding only 20 goals this time, so their improved is there for all to see. Recruitment certainly played a part in the Magpies’ turnaround, but Howe worked hard with previously underperforming squad players too.

He’s recently added to the backline with Sven Botman joining from LOSC Lille, so Newcastle should be a tough side to break down next season.

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