"We've got to get our psychology right" - Howe on Hammers trip
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe is determined to head into the international break in a positive manner ahead of Sunday's Premier League trip to West Ham United (kick-off 2pm BST).
The Magpies travel to the capital full of confidence following Wednesday’s 4-1 UEFA Champions league triumph against Paris Saint-Germain at St. James’ Park and target a fourth consecutive Premier League victory this weekend following triumphs over Brentford, Sheffield United and Burnley.
United have been effective both in attack and defence in recent weeks, scoring 16 goals in their last six competitive fixtures whilst conceding just once, recording five clean sheets in the process, but Howe stressed the importance of the correct approach towards Sunday’s trip to the London Stadium.
Newcastle, however, face a West Ham side who have won four of their opening seven Premier League matches, currently sitting one point above the Magpies in seventh spot.
Here are some of the boss’ main talking points following his pre-match media briefing at the Magpies’ Benton-based training base on Friday morning:
On Wednesday night’s 4-1 victory against Paris Saint-Germain, the Magpies’ first Champions League win since 2003:
“I woke up the next day and it was straight on with watching it back. I didn’t get a chance to do it that night because it was quite late.
“I was so pleased in terms of the performance that we gave, how committed the players were and the feeling afterwards will hopefully live long in the memory but now, we have to refocus all our energy and attention to West Ham.
“We know it’s going to be a really difficult game but we’ve got to get our psychology right for the match. If you don’t get the psychology right going into any game, the games are difficult enough but especially West Ham away and everything that game brings.
“We know that we can’t underestimate any team, any challenge, wherever we go. It’s just about being present and making sure we deliver what we need to deliver.”
“I think the injury list doesn’t look great at the minute but I don’t think, apart from Harvey (Barnes), there’s anything long-term there.
“There may be short-term pain for us but we’ll wait and see how Callum (Wilson) and Joelinton are. They’re probably the closest two.
“We’ve got Anthony (Gordon) suspended which is another blow for us. Sven (Botman) won’t make it.”
On facing West Ham United, who won the 2022/23 Europa Conference League under David Moyes’ management:
“They lost Declan Rice who was so important for them. He was the heartbeat of the team and gave them real stability in the middle of the pitch but I think they’ve replaced him really well.
“It’s always a challenge when you get a big fee for a player and what you do with that money but they’ve been very smart. The players that have come in have settled immediately and they’ve done really well this season.
“They’ve had some really tough fixtures as well so the start has been really impressive. They’re an obvious threat from set-plays with James Ward Prowse’s delivery and everything that he brings so that’s why, for us, it’s a case of refocussing and not being too distracted or affected any way by the performance on Wednesday.
“It’s going to be a mental challenge again for us, much like it was for us after the Milan game to Sheffield United. The players dealt with that week really well and this is another test for us.”
On the importance of heading into the international break in positive fashion:
“We’d love to. I think it’s been a magnificent response to what was three really tough games for us, especially the last one against Brighton.
“We had a long time to think about that game. We didn’t have a long to think about it together because we all split and went in various directions but then we came together again and the response has been so good from the players.
“I’ve seen a real togetherness, spirit and positive energy that we’ve needed to carry us through. We’d love to finish this block of games with another positive result.”
On Miguel Almirón, who has scored three goals in his last four competitive outings:
“He’s been very good. His finish on Wednesday (against PSG) can be underestimated. I thought it was a really good finish from a tough angle and had to react very quickly.
“He had to be really pinpoint with his finish. Last year, he was magnificent. His goals helped us so much and I always say with Miggy it's not just the goals but his all-round performance and I think he’s in a good vein of form.
“He’ll be really confident. He’s such a big player for us.”
On Fabian Schär, who rounded off the Magpies’ 4-1 scoring against PSG on Wednesday with a sensational long-range strike in front of a raucous Gallowgate End:
“He’s just been excellent. It’s not a conventional centre-half finish, that’s a centre-forward’s finish, but he has the capability to produce moments that take your breath away.
“Technically, he’s so good so I think if he was starting his career now, he’d be worth an absolute fortune. He’s a top player and I’m really pleased that he’s getting the consistency and accolades for his performances.”
On his decision to take up the role of Newcastle United manager in November 2021:
“I knew the minute I was going to say yes and I’d been offered the job and I was going to take it, it was a life-changing moment for me. I knew my life would change.
“Thankfully, it’s been a great journey so far. I’ve loved every second of it. When I took the job, I was very proud to become Newcastle manager. I’ve never woke up without that feeling.
“That feeling is there that I’m doing something very special in my life and it's certainly something I’m not taking it for granted."