Eddie Howe urges Newcastle United to maintain momentum at Manchester City

Magpies followed on from top-four finish last season by starting new campaign with 5-1 win over Villa

Newcastle United's Alexander Isak celebrates scoring against Aston Villa at St James' Park on the opening weekend of the Premier League season. PA
Powered by automated translation

Eddie Howe has urged his Newcastle United players to maintain their current momentum when they face treble winners Manchester City on Saturday night.

Newcastle finished last season fourth in the Premier League – their highest finish since ending the 2002/23 season third under Bobby Robson – and began the new campaign with a superb 5-1 thrashing of Aston Villa.

But now the Magpies face the ultimate test when they take on Pep Guardiola's men, who defeated Sevilla on penalties in Wednesday's Uefa Super Cup.

Newcastle's record at City is abysmal – they have never won a Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium and last took three points no their when they won 1-0 in 2000 at Maine Road thanks to an Alan Shearer goal.

But optimism is sky high on Tyneside after their resurgence under Howe and the fact City played a draining match against Sevilla in the heat of Athens just three days ago could also count in their favour.

“We want our players to go there with all the positive emotions that our season last year and our first game of this season should bring. We have to be ourselves. We can't change,” said Howe during Friday's pre-game press conference.

“We want to become a top team consistently in the Premier League and to do that we have to have a clear identity and try to implement that on other teams.

“They went into a tough game [in the Super Cup] and were desperate to win, you could see their reactions afterwards. This is a team that will not be complacent. They will be ready for us so we expect a really good game.”

Last Saturday's win over Villa at Saturday was a hugely impressive one with Howe starting with Alexander Isak in the striker's role ahead of last season's top scorer Callum Wilson.

Newcastle 5 Villa 1: Player ratings

Isak repaid his manager's faith by scoring twice with Wilson also on target when the England attacker come off the bench in the second half.

Wilson admitted he used the disappointment of being a substitute as motivation when he did appear on the pitch and Howe admitted it had been a tough call to make before the game.

“It was very difficult,” he said. “One of those calls that I didn't look forward to making out of my love for Callum. My relationship with him is very strong and he's been outstanding for me as a manager.

“To make those calls and disappoint someone you love is very difficult. I had to make a call, and Alex performed really well and so did Callum; they both scored. Getting off the mark is important.”

As for Isak, the Swede continues to go from strength to strength since his club-record £63 million move from Real Sociedad last summer.

“I think he's coped with the move really well, especially when you consider he had an injury early on which was a hugely frustrating period for him.

"Sometimes the price tag can weigh heavy but I don't get that feeling with Alex – he's taken it all in his stride. He's performing really well, and he has done through pre-season so I'm hopeful he'll have a great season.”

Another bonus of last week was the debut of Sandro Tonali after his £60 millon summer switch from Italian giants AC Milan.

The Italian midfielder scored the first goal after just six minutes and earned rave reviews after the match for his superlative all-round performance that has instantly endeared him to home fans.

“The start is hugely important because it settles everyone down. You could see when he scored, the emotion coming out,” said Howe.

“The rest of his performance followed that, where he was excellent. Hopefully now he'll feel the love of the supporters and there will be an instant connection – that can only help him.”

Newcastle, meanwhile, are closing in on the signing of 18-year-old Chelsea defender Lewis Hall: “It’s a loan deal,” added Howe. “He’s a player I like – very versatile with really good potential.

“Let’s see what happens today. If we do bring a player in [Hall], that will be our transfer business concluded, [barring] injuries.”

Updated: August 18, 2023, 2:40 PM