The 44-year-old speaks to his sons daily when he is in the north-east
The 44-year-old father of three has spent the last seven months combining his parental duties with the task of keeping the Magpies in the Premier League with the latter objective having been accomplished handsomely and to popular acclaim.
Howe, who replaced Steve Bruce at the St James’ Park helm in November last year, has commuted between the north-east and his home in Dorset, where his wife Vicki and their three sons, aged 10, seven and three, have remained amid the search for a new family home on Tyneside – and parting has proved difficult.
The former Bournemouth boss said: “Saying goodbye I’ve always found very, very difficult. You know that you’re not going to see them for a period of time and I want to be in their lives every day and I want to shape their lives as best I can.
“But I know it’s for a short period of time and I know for me, I’m going on to something amazing, I’m managing Newcastle United and it’s an incredible experience for me.
“They love Newcastle as much as anybody, so they know why I’m leaving them. I think that helps as well.”
Asked how quickly his attention switches from the tearful goodbye to Newcastle United as he heads north once again, Howe hesitated before saying: “If my wife reads this….” adding with a smile: “By the time I leave the gates of the house. That’s shocking.”
Howe, who brought his eight-year reign at Bournemouth – his second spell in charge – to a close during the summer of 2020 in the wake of the club’s relegation from the top flight, accepted Newcastle’s offer of employment having rejected other opportunities, most notably at Celtic, knowing it would have an impact on his family in the short term.
However daily calls have helped to mitigate his absence.
He said: “Once they’ve finished school or the various clubs they do, I will make a point of phoning and seeing them visually every day.
“I have to say, from my side, I’m intently listening to what they say. From their side, it’s one-word answers and they run off.
“I get another one of the boys come on, he gives a one word-answer and then runs off. It’s like a conveyor belt, me trying to keep their attention.
“But I miss them greatly. We have made it work and we knew it was only for a short period.”
The Howe family were together on Gallowgate on Monday evening, and with very good reason.
When the Magpies’ head coach – who famously had to watch his first game from his hotel after testing positive for Covid-19 – walked into the club, he inherited a side yet to win a Premier League game and in genuine danger of slipping out of the top division for the third time in 13 years.
By the time Arsenal arrived at St James’ for the penultimate fixture, they were not only mathematically safe, but comfortably so, and a 2-0 victory over the Champions League-chasing Gunners was their 11th in 17 outings since the end of January, perhaps a modest achievement in the context of the club’s ambitions under its new owners, but one which was celebrated deliriously by fans sensing a brighter future.
Howe, who like the players was joined on the pitch by his family afterwards, said: “I wanted them to experience that, to bring them closer to the club. The result, the performance, made it even better.
“If they had watched that on the TV, I would have been crying inside for them. The fact they were there, it was a brilliant moment.”
Famously studious when it comes to attention to football detail, Howe found himself slip into video analysis mode when his wife captured eldest son Harry performing a Cruyff turn amid the celebrations.
He said: “I have been coaching and coaching him to do a Cruyff turn. He does it in the garden, but never in his matches.
“He plays slightly within himself, so to see him do that Cruyff at St James’ in front of 50,000 is validation he can do it. The pressure is on him now.”