Eddie Howe determined to keep Newcastle players free of pressure

·3-min read

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe will not allow his players to be weighed down by expectation.

The Magpies have thrust themselves into the spotlight since the club’s new Saudi-backed owners bought out Mike Ashley, with approaching £210million having been invested in the squad in just two transfer windows.

As a result, the club’s fans are dreaming of a return to the days under Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson when the Magpies challenged for honours, although Howe will not let that hope translate into extra pressure on his team.

Speaking after Saturday’s 0-0 home draw with Crystal Palace, Howe said: “I’m sure expectations have been raised, although certainly not by me or anyone connected internally.

“We’ve just tried to go about our business in the way that we feel benefits the team and improves the team.

“Obviously when you sign players for transfer fees, that creates a buzz and excitement, and rightly so. But we just have to create an environment where the players are able to perform and give their best under the most minimal pressure possible.”

That may be easier said than done with the arrivals of Nick Pope, Matt Targett, Sven Botman and record signing Alexander Isak this summer after Kieran Trippier, Dan Burn, Bruno Guimaraes and Chris Wood headed for Tyneside in January.

An opening-day win over promoted Nottingham Forest and a thrilling 3-3 draw with champions Manchester City sent spirits soaring, and Newcastle were desperately unfortunate to leave Liverpool on Wednesday evening with nothing to show for their efforts after Fabio Carvalho’s 98th-minute winner.

However Saturday’s stalemate, during which Isak squandered a golden opportunity to win the game, left Howe’s side without a victory since the first weekend of the campaign.

Asked how he reflected on their start, the head coach said: “I’m not happy with it. I want more points, I want to win every game.

“There are always swings and roundabouts, it never always goes for you, but we should have got something from Liverpool. There are more points we’ve left out there, but it’s up to us to improve those slight margins.”

Palace boss Patrick Vieira was satisfied with a point at St James’ Park against a side he expects to contest the European places, but admitted it had proved a frustrating afternoon for his frontmen, and in particular, Wilfried Zaha.

Vieira said: “He was frustrated from the start to the end. When you play up front, there was a lot of frustration because it was difficult to find them, we didn’t play well enough to find our front three. That’s one of the reasons why Wilfried was frustrated.

“But it’s not about the individual, it’s about the collective. We need to reflect on how we didn’t play well enough to find him quicker. At the same time, yes, he has to accept that under pressure, it is always difficult to find our front players.”