Eddie Howe’s masterstoke at Newcastle United as signing Rafa Benitez returns to the fore

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Schar, on a personal level, had a very good 2019 after finding his bearings in English football following his transfer from Deportivo La Coruña.

There were memorable moments at both ends of the pitch for the former banker, who was brought to the club by Rafa Benitez for his ability to get the ball out and turn defense into attack.

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“The first two or three months weren’t easy for me,” Schar told reporters over dinner.

“Rafa told me to be patient. When I had my chance I took it. I was full of confidence and it was a joy to play for Newcastle and the fans at St James’s Park. J I had some very good games. The second half of the season was incredible.

Things weren’t going so well for Steve Bruce’s Newcastle, beaten 1-0 by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park the day before when Schar received his award at Ramside Hall, although Schar told host Ian Dennis: “I’m really confident that we will get our points, and then everything will be fine.”

Ultimately, United were fine, although Schar, like the club itself, had a difficult few years.

Fabian Schar with the North East Football Writers‘ Association Player of the Year award in February 2020.

Schar found himself out of Bruce’s squad at the start of this season, and he didn’t play a club game for two months.

However, that all changed after the appointment of Howe, who had followed Schar’s career before joining Newcastle.

The 30-year-old was recalled to the starting XI for Howe’s first game in charge, the home game against Brentford. Schar seemed to lack sharpness after his spell on the bench, but Howe was ready to give him the games he needed. Schar did not look back.

United, 14th in the Premier League after last weekend’s 2-0 win over Brentford, have conceded just two goals in five games. It was quite a transformation, and Schar played his part.

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

Right-hander Schar has formed a solid partnership with left-hander Dan Burn, signed last month by Saturday opponents Brighton and Hove Albion.

Howe said: “Fabian is someone I have always admired from afar for many years. We knew him before he signed for Newcastle. Really, a very good central defender in football.

“I really enjoyed working with him. He’s a very good character, he takes his football very seriously, he wants to improve. He hadn’t played for a long time and I think his performances, because he’s got better physically, got better. And better.”

Additionally, Schar is starting to make his contribution in the opposing half. At Brentford Community Stadium he led a breakaway and set up Joe Willock for Newcastle’s second goal.

Newcastle United defender Fabian Schar.

Schar’s contract with United expires at the end of the campaign – and it’s easy to see why Howe is so keen on extending it.

Meanwhile, Schar United team-mate Allan Sait-Maximin has won the NEFWA Player of the Year award for 2021.

This year’s dinner takes place at Ramside Hall on Sunday.

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Rafa Benitez talks to Fabian Schar and DeAndre Yedlin in 2019.
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