Sean Longstaff has claimed he wasn’t coached properly at Newcastle under Steve Bruce and heaped praise on Eddie Howe for helping to turn his career round.
Longstaff, 25, came through the academy at Newcastle and originally broke onto the scene under Rafa Benitez, earning rave reviews, but after the Spaniard left his career began to falter.
His contract was running out at the end of last season and, having struggled for game time and form under Steve Bruce, it looked as if he was heading out the door with his former boss – then Everton manager – keen to bring him in last January.
However, Howe’s arrival changed everything and Longstaff – who was once linked with Man United – has gone on to become an integral part of the Magpies’ superb season, playing 39 times in all competitions.
And Longstaff explained the impact Howe has had on him, while he also appeared to hit out at former Magpies boss Bruce.
Sean Longstaff has heaped praise on Newcastle boss Eddie Howe for turning his career around
Longstaff (second right) also hit out at ex-Magpies boss Steve Bruce (left), claiming he ‘wasn’t enjoying football’ under him and revealed the pair barely spoke
‘It’s weird, looking back,’ Longstaff told The Athletic. ‘Before the new manager came to Newcastle, I wasn’t enjoying football. I wasn’t enjoying coming in every day and not really playing.
‘In my opinion, I didn’t feel like I was getting massively coached into becoming the best version of me.
‘It was perfect when I broke through (under Benitez). I came in and did well and everyone loves you.
‘When Steve Bruce came in as manager, I’d come back from injury and didn’t really feel like I was ready but sort of felt like I had to play.
‘And when you’re in that mindset and in that position, you’re never going to be able to play well and, over time, I just sort of …’
Longstaff has previously spoken about hitting a low point in his life when the misery of being unable to make an impact wore him down, with the midfielder breaking down in tears while trying to eat with his family.
Matt Ritchie recommended he saw a psychologist and that was a turning point for the 25-year-old.
But another key moment in turning his career around was the arrival of Howe – who replaced Bruce in November 2021 – with Longstaff lavishing praise on the Newcastle boss.
He added: ‘After his first training session, I thought, “That’s totally different”. I loved every second.
‘I didn’t play much at the start but I always thought the way he wanted to play really suited me, and once I’d got in…
‘I needed it (being showered with love by Howe) massively. In my opinion, it was something that had been lacking in the two years prior.
‘It’s like anything: as much as you’re a professional and an adult, if someone shows you a bit of love and affection and tells you how great you are, it’s nice to hear. I hadn’t heard it for a long time.
The ever-present midfielder claimed he ‘wasn’t coached’ until Howe arrived in October 2021
Before Howe pitched up at Newcastle, Longstaff, 25, was expected to leave the club on a free
‘I spoke to the new manager more that month than I’d spoken to the old one in two years, which is probably not a good sign. He told me what his plans were, how he saw me in the team.
‘He said, “We’ll get you a new contract sorted” — the club had just let me run into the last year of my deal. I thought to myself, “I don’t really think I believe you”, but it came true.’
Howe and Longstaff enjoy a very good relationship and the homegrown star revealed how this chat and the affection showed by Howe was the catalyst to what has turned out to be a fantastic season for the Magpies’ ever-present midfielder.
He continued: ‘(After that chat) my mentality shifted from being ready to go to, “You’ve got six months to save your Newcastle career”.
‘I remember going home and saying, “I want to stay” and that’s when I had to show him I really wanted to be part of it. I’ll forever be grateful.
‘But the second I met him and his staff, knowing straight away he would help me get better as a player and person, I was ready to run through brick walls for him.’