NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United can continue their rise from underdogs to equals with victory over Manchester United — that’s the view of head coach Eddie Howe.
Howe is preparing to lock horns again with Dutchman Erik ten Hag, a constant critic of his Magpies’ side, the first time the two have met since it was the Red Devils who emerged victorious from the Carabao Cup final encounter in February.
A win at St. James’ Park this weekend would see Newcastle climb above their more decorated rivals in the race for the Champions League, it would also better their points tally for the whole of last season — and that despite still having 11 more games to play.
That statistic in particular represents just how far Newcastle have come, in such a short space of time.
“I think we have tried this season to approach every game as equals with whoever we are playing,” said Howe ahead of the potentially pivotal weekend clash.
“Certainly in our preparations, we’ve tried not to filter anything negative through to the players. What I mean by that, we have tried to be very positive in our approach in every aspect of our play, whether that is on or off the ball. A fearless approach, an approach which hopefully makes the players believe we can win that game, home or away, because ultimately that is where we want to be to be the team we want to be in the future.
“Last season was slightly different. We had to play a certain way to get results to elevate our way up the league so. If you look at a game from last season to this, I hope you see a big difference in terms of our style and how we want to play.
“We are certainly evolving, hopefully into a better team.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle have announced the arrival of former manager of rivals Sunderland, Jack Ross, who joins as the interim head of coach development on a short-term basis.
Ross, who took Sunderland to Wembley twice in his two years as boss, will provide support for the academy’s coaching structure and players in the under-9 to under-16 age groups.
Academy director, Steve Harper, said: “Jack is a very experienced manager, coach and coach educator. His knowledge and experience will be of huge benefit to us during his time here.”
Ross has overseen almost 300 senior games at clubs including Alloa Athletic, St. Mirren, Sunderland, Hibernian and Dundee United. And the club’s summer schedule is starting to take shape with the announcement that Newcastle will travel north of the border to take on Scottish giants Rangers in pre-season.
As well as a trip to America’s Eastern seaboard in July, the Magpies are now slated to take on Gers at Ibrox on Tues. July 18. The fixture will act as a testimonial match in honor of Light Blues goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who — if selected this weekend — could make his 500th appearance for the Scottish Premiership side.
Of the announcement, Howe said: “A trip to Rangers will present a strong challenge at what will be an important time in our summer preparations.
“Any time Rangers play at Ibrox, you expect competitive football, and we hope to contribute to a great occasion in honor of Allan McGregor’s achievements with the club.”