You may have missed Newcastle United's 'timeout tactic' that left Fulham raging – but it's pure genius from Eddie Howe

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe looks on during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Fulham FC at St. James Park on January 15, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
(Image credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe has got his tactics spot on this season – both while the ball is in play and otherwise. 

The Toon chief masterminded yet another win at the weekend over Fulham to solidify the Magpies' place in the top four but with the clash poised in the balance in the first half, Howe and assistant Jason Tindall appeared to orchestrate a quick move to buy their side some time and get a quick team talk in ahead of the break.

The Sky Sports team completely missed it – as did a lot of fans actually in the ground. But some eagle-eyed supporters noticed something fishy going on, all stemming from Nick Pope putting in a glorious, Oscar-season cameo…

Newcastle and Eddie Howe's timeout tactic explained

Newcastle United's English goalkeeper Nick Pope (2R) receives medical treatment during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Fulham at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north-east England on January 15, 2023

Nick Pope receives treatment for Newcastle… or does he? (Image credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

It all started when Newcastle won a corner. Magpies assistant Tindall called over goalkeeper Pope for instruction, who jogged back to his net to watch the set piece. As soon as the home team lose the ball, Pope sat down.

The Newcastle bench then gestured to the referee that their goalkeeper needs attention and the game is brought to a swift halt. Is there anything wrong with Pope, though? 

The Sky commentary team, you may remember, note that the keeper has had relatively nothing to do all afternoon so they can't work out how he's pulled up with something wrong. It could have been that jog back to the goal… but substitute Martin Dubravka remains seated on the bench, with no one telling him to warm up. Clearly, Howe and co. are not too worried about the England No.2. 

Meanwhile, the Newcastle players are now receiving instructions from Howe, 10 minutes early, around the 35th minute. Except Joelinton, who's loitering much closer to the Fulham huddle.

Newcastle United striker Alexander Isak celebrates with team mates after scoring the winning goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Fulham FC at St. James Park on January 15, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Newcastle striker Alexander Isak found the breakthrough late on – not that it stopped the gamesmanship… (Image credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Is it a coincidence that the Toon send one of their Portuguese-speaking stars to stand in close enough proximity to hear the away side and the Portuguese Marco Silva? Perhaps. Fulham coach Luis Boa Morte was seen to be unhappy with Joelinton during this moment, though. Yes, Boa is also Portuguese.

All a big conspiracy theory? Or the greatest timeout tactic you've heard this season in the Premier League? 

That's not where the gamesmanship ended, either. Towards the end of the match, the BBC reported (opens in new tab) that "Newcastle told the officials Fulham had 12 players on the pitch." The referee was seen to be counting Fulham players over and over again, delaying the furious west Londoners from getting the game back underway in search of an equaliser.

Watch out for those pesky Magpies. As the banner reads, they're not here to be popular, they're here to compete…

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.