Former Newcastle United midfielder Jermaine Jenas believes his old club will be able to ‘settle’ into life in the Champions League after they battled to a draw against Serie A giants AC Milan.
The TNT Sports pundit was in the last Magpies side to compete in UEFA’s premier club competition as two Alan Shearer goals helped United earned a 2-2 draw against AC’s city rivals Inter in 2003.
There was an increased level of expectation and excitement as the Magpies marked their return to the Champions League by producing a display full of grit and determination to get off the mark and give themselves a foundation to build upon when they host Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain next month.
Eddie Howe’s side almost sneaked all three points when Sean Longstaff brought a last-minute save out of Milan substitute goalkeeper Marco Sportiello - but Jenas insisted a point will be viewed as a huge positive for his former club.
He told TNT Sports: “I think sometimes when you come into these campaigns as a new team who haven’t been in amongst the Champions League for a long time, a game like this can be a real settler for you.
“Those Newcastle players will go into that dressing room and they’ll all know they haven’t played as well as they can play but they’ve got they’ve got a result at the San Siro. When you get these teams back to St James Park, they’re going to cause everybody in that group a problem so they’ll be delighted with that performance.”
Jenas’ former England team-mate Joe Cole also pointed to the St James Park atmosphere as a reason for Howe and his players to have a positive mindset as they continue their attempt to make an impact upon their return to European football’s top table.
“He (Howe) will be absolutely delighted,” explained the former England star.
“(There was) great, great tenacity from the players, their commitment to defend, throwing bodies in, he will be delighted. On the ball, they were well off their usual standards but that doesn’t matter because they’ve come here, they’ve gone to the San Siro.
“They’ve got that off their back and it’s a fantastic for the club. They’re back in the Champions League. Forget the performance, it took until the ninetieth minute to hit the target but it’s a much better result for Newcastle than it is for AC Milan in what is the group of death.
“You have to win your home games, they won’t find it easy going to St James Park. Newcastle will take great confidence, look, they’re delighted. Great scenes.”
United are back in action on Sunday afternoon when the return to Premier League action with a visit to Sheffield United.