Eddie Howe knows front three, Tino Livramento was in stands ahead of £30m move| SolSportHQ
Newcastle maintained their unbeaten pre-season form with a 2-0 win over Fiorentina at St James’ Park.
Miguel Almiron and Alexander Isak were on target for Eddie Howe’s side, who kick off against Aston Villa in the Premier League next weekend.
Mail Sport’s CRAIG HOPE was at the inaugural Sela Cup to bring you his five talking points…
THREE AND EASY?
Howe started with Almiron, Isak and Anthony Gordon as his front three – like he did against Chelsea in the States recently – and that is looking like his preferred triumvirate heading into the season.
Gordon’s end-product needs to improve and twice his finishing let him down after working his way into positions of promise. But the energy and superior fitness we saw in the States was again evident. He looks far sharper than he did during a largely uninspiring second half of last season after joining for £40million from Everton, and it would be a surprise were he not in from the off against Villa.
Isak set up Almiron for the opener on 39 minutes and the Paraguayan’s finish was again instinctive, one touch to escape a marker and another to clip into the far corner. When presented with a chance with more time to think in the second half, he hit the keeper.
The provider of the first then got a goal of his own when flashing home a header from Kieran Trippier’s corner on 82 minutes. Isak looked more threatening here than he has during the previous matches this summer, and you would suspect he’ll keep the striking jersey ahead of Callum Wilson.
WHERE’S MAD DOG’S BARK?
In a blow for Howe and Jason Tindall enthusiasts – not to mention the man himself – new Premier League rules prevent two coaches from occupying the technical area this season. Tindall, nicknamed Mad Dog by supporters, has been a constant presence at Howe’s side. A loyal dog, indeed.
However, he will be kept on a lead tied to the bench from now, not that Howe seems too unsettled by the development.
‘He’ll be there, I just don’t know how far forward he’ll be. But as far as I’m aware, he’ll certainly be with us,’ said Howe. ‘It is probably a two, three metre difference. We will rotate duties to keep it fresh and so that the players hear our voices. We will dovetail in and out of the technical area.’
You can’t keep a good dog down for too long.
TINO’S IN TOON…
Incoming defender Tino Livramento was in the stands at St James’ ahead of his £30m transfer from Southampton. The last Tino to arrive on Tyneside was Asprilla in 1996, and he famously touched down in a fur coat. Given the swirling rain and windchill here, his namesake could have done with the same.
Howe and his recruitment team will now turn their attention to a centre-back, especially with the manager confirming Fabian Schar remains absent with a hamstring injury.
On a positive note, Alex Murphy, 19, stepped in alongside Sven Botman and Howe revealed afterwards that the Irish defender will remain around the first-team this season. He certainly impressed here.
NOWT FOR SCOUTS…
Newcastle’s coaching staff and members of their recruitment team watched the earlier 1-1 draw between Villarreal and Nice from the directors’ box. The player they were observing was Nice midfielder Khephren Thuram.
The 22-year-old has been on their radar for a while now, but he may have slipped from it after this performance. He did not appear overly keen to impress, given his indifferent body language. There were some nice touches, yes, but there was not the intensity and running demanded by Howe.
BETTER OFF WITH TWO OF THEIR OWN…
Howe started with academy graduates Elliot Anderson and Lewis Miley in midfield – alongside £52m home debutant Sandro Tonali – and they did execute the demands of their manager when it came to off-the-ball endeavour.
On the ball they were again outstanding at times – they were the stars of the US tour – and Anderson, in particular, will be extremely unlucky not to start against Villa.
Howe said: ‘He is very much knocking on the door,’ said Howe. ‘His journey has been interesting. The loan at Bristol Rovers (season before last) certainly helped him, as much from a confidence perspective. Sometimes, you need evidence to believe how good you actually are.
‘Coming back last season he had a few niggly injuries which was frustrating and hampered his progress. This year, he looks stronger and ready to contribute regularly for us.’