EDDIE HOWE has made a number of important signings during his managerial career, but the Newcastle United head coach places the purchase of Kieran Trippier right at the top of the pile. In fact, he rates the full-back so highly, he has signed him twice.

Howe was the manager of Burnley in the summer of 2011 when a then 20-year-old Trippier arrived at Turf Moor on loan from Manchester City. Six months later, he was persuading the Burnley board to sign him permanently.

Fast forward a decade, and Trippier was becoming Howe’s first signing as Newcastle boss as he agreed to leave Atletico Madrid, and wave goodbye to life in the Champions League, in order to join a Magpies side that were fighting for their lives at the foot of the table.

Trippier was keen to return to England, and knew Newcastle were on an upward curve under their new Saudi Arabia-backed ownership group. Howe needed a right-back, and knew Trippier was exactly the kind of inspirational leader that could help the rest of his squad achieve Premier League safety before continuing to drive them on from there.

“I think he’s one of my best-ever signings,” said Howe, after Trippier’s three first-half assists played a key role in Newcastle’s remarkable 8-0 thrashing of Sheffield United yesterday afternoon. “I’ve signed him twice, and I’m delighted to be have been able to sign a player of his quality twice in my career.

“I signed him very early on at Burnley, and straight away his delivery and crossing ability were the best I’d seen, whether from a static ball, a set-play or a moving ball. He sets the tone for us. His mentality is excellent, his desire to win, he never stops. That’s why he leads the team so well.”


Those leadership qualities were especially evident last week as Trippier helped his squad-mates negotiate a testing eight-day period that featured a crucial home game over Brentford, a Champions League trip to the San Siro to take on AC Milan and a game at Bramall Lane that ultimately resulted in Newcastle’s biggest-ever Premier League away win.

At the start of last week, plenty of questions were being asked about how Newcastle’s players would handle the mental and physical demands of combining Champions League football with the relentless nature of the Premier League programme. Could they cope with three big games in a week? Yesterday’s answer was both dazzling and definitive.

Trippier played in all three of those games, and while there will surely come a time when he has to be rested – perhaps in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup game against Manchester City given that Tino Livramento and Lewis Hall are both pushing for a first Newcastle start – Howe will be understandably reluctant to leave the 33-year-old out of any game at the moment, such is his importance, both on and off the field.

“He’s not the only one, we have a few players with Champions League experience, but Kieran’s experience has been vital in the last few days,” said Howe, who saw yesterday’s annihilation of Sheffield United lift Newcastle to eighth position in the table. “Kieran has a way of leading and expressing his experiences in a really positive way for the rest of the group.

“Together with Sven (Botman) and Bruno (Guimaraes), players who have experienced the Champions League, I think preferably you have a few players who have been through it before and it can help the other players.

“Kieran led by example on the pitch, which is always the most important thing. His performance in Milan was top drawer, and he’s so important for us.”