With Tyneside and possibly his squad still smarting about last weekend’s smash and grab, Howe also reflected on the impact of that Liverpool result and its impact on his team’s confidence levels
"Tough result for us. Could have been very different and in the early stages of the game we had some good chances. We didn't take them and the goals we conceded especially the first were tough."
"I would probably say the first goal is key in any game. It dented our confidence, especially after last week. Not just the goal the manner of the goal was messy from our perspective.
"From then on the game was probably not the game we wanted it to be, the second goal. It came when we were fighting to get back into the game, the subs came on and made a difference and then out of nothing they score again."
"I am very realistic. Of course, there are concerns when you are not winning and have lost three in a row. I am not naive to that. You have factors and reasons; the fixture list was very tough for us.
"My job is to be calm and analyse where we can better then go to work on where we can get better."
What Howe and his coaching team do have is a hard week ahead on the training pitch following the International break trying to find a blend and formation that can get the season back on track in a positive fashion.
Calm heads and hard work will be Howe’s watchwords.
Defensively, his previous strongroom looks suspect and short of pace and at times disjointed. The loss of Botman is not terminal but every game he misses exposes a vulnerability that was last seen under Bruce.
The central midfield three of Tonali Bruno and Joelinton are struggling to click.
At times Tonali seems displaced as he adapts from the style of play he was used to during his time with Milan and Bruno is being drawn into a deeper role which impacts on his ability to drive forward effectively. Neither seem comfortable with the roles they are expected to undertake. Tonali and Joelinton often naturally drift wide on their respective sides of the pitch, and this can leave Bruno isolated and exposed when the opposition gain possession in central midfield.
Bruno’s deeper role can also isolate Isak forcing him to either come looking for the ball or to feed from scraps. The gaps between the front three sometimes resembling a chasm.
There is a hesitation in what was our slick passing and movement and it’s not a case simply of one or two not clicking. Its collectively as a group.
Bruno sitting in a DCM role only works if he has the likes of a pivotal No10 ahead of him with quality left and right. If gaps are left, he becomes exposed. That is where Longstaff fits in; taking on the defensive midfield role and allowing Bruno to do what he does best; unpicking the locks higher up the pitch.
Howe’s dilemma is how he fits that into his choices for a central three.
What we are also observing at key moments in the game is the lack of any leadership or responsibility from among the eleven. Again, a throwback to the days of Bruce, as players appear to wait for instruction rather than taking ownership and working this out as a team.
Strength, pace, concentration and fluidity were the bywords underpinning last season’s fine form. This needs to and will return.
So, lots of work to do.