Fri 4 Aug 2023, 11:40 · NUFCFEED

Eddie Howe's pre-Sela Cup press conference: Livramento signing, Barnes and Tonali settling in, missing Saint-Maximin, Bruno's future, and more

Eddie Howe's pre-Sela Cup press conference: Livramento signing, Barnes and Tonali settling in, missing Saint-Maximin, Bruno's future, and more
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Newcastle manager Eddie Howe spoke to the assembled media at Little Benton this morning, discussing a wide range of topics ahead of this weekend's games against Fiorentina and Villarreal in the inaugural Sela Cup.

On the agenda was the imminent signing of Tino Livramento, how many players he hopes to bring in thereafter, Bruno Guimarães' future, missing Allan Saint-Maximin around the training ground, Barnes and Tonali, the premiere of "We Are Newcastle United", the membership ballot controversy, injury updates, and much, much more.

Here's a breakdown of all the key topics covered in the 24-minute press conference, which you can watch in full at the bottom of the article

On Tino Livramento's impending transfer from Southampton

Howe was unsurprisingly unwilling to give much comment on Livramento, using the same "in the dark" line as he did when asked about Harvey Barnes when he knew his arrival was imminent.

"Let's see what happens in the next couple of days" and "I really like the player" were the two other main soundbites to take from what the gaffer said on our soon-to-be new right-back.

Speaking more generally about ACL injuries, Howe says those sorts of previous injury problems are the reason why the club does such thorough medicals.

On his current squad size and further transfer plans

He's not worried about squad size and actually thinks the squad is leaner now than it was at the end of last season. He says because of the increased number of games on the schedule he's expecting to use every player, so they'll need to be ready for action when called upon.

When then questioned about his squad potentially being "too small" and needing to do "more shopping", Howe said that at a maximum he'd be looking to bring in "a couple of players", including Livramento. He's happy with the quality of the squad when everybody is fit, but the problem, as always, is keeping everybody fit.

Howe's definitely not looking to strengthen in the striker area, which is something he's said before. He believes Anthony Gordon can easily cover the striker position.

On Bruno Guimarães' contract situation and future the club

He doesn't think Bruno wants to leave and feels the club is protected because he wants to stay, regardless of his contract situation. The Brazilian wants to play on the biggest stage possible and help Newcastle to keep growing.

Howe thinks Bruno feels Newcastle is his home and while he says nobody can ever tell what is going to happen in football, he sees a player that is very committed to the football club.

On how much he'll miss Allan Saint-Maximin

Howe says he was just speaking to the rest of the coaching staff yesterday saying how much he misses having Maxi around the place.

He misses managing him and trying to improve various parts of his game, as he built a good rapport with him. He loved thinking of ways to try and make his game better and thinks the rest of the squad misses him as well.

On how Harvey Barnes and Sandro Tonali are settling in

The gaffer says both are settling in well, though Tonali coming from Italy naturally makes it harder for him. In terms of Tonali, Howe says his in-training performances and in-game performances have been great and he's really looking forward to seeing what he can do.

Barnes has had an easier transition so far, although he was at Leicester for his entire adult life, so it still won't have been too easy for him. Howe's excited about what he can bring and said "he's already shown that he's a goalscorer" in training.

He believes the Sela Cup gives both Barnes and Tonali a great chance to play at St. James' Park before the real action kicks off. The stadium and support were a huge reason for both players joining the club, and he doesn't believe there's a comparable ground in the country.

On Fabian Schär, Joe Willock, Emil Krafth, and Sean Longstaff's fitness

Schär is going to have a late fitness test ahead of the Sela Cup games, meaning he's probably more likely to feature on Sunday, while Joe Willock and Emil Krafth won't be involved at all as they work their way back to full fitness. Longstaff is set to be involved, though, having trained all week without issues.

On the premiere of "We are Newcastle United" at the Tyneside Cinema

Howe described watching himself on the big screen as an "interesting experience" with a chuckle, saying that he's never quite sure how he's going to be perceived.

He says he left the cinema feeling "a little bit negative" because, at the end of episode two, the club is in a "down moment". However, he felt the documentary made for good viewing and was entertaining, which is ultimately the point of it.

He didn't feel like he learned anything new about how Amanda Staveley and the rest of the board work when it comes to transfers, because he knows how long transfers can take and how painful they can be. Personally, he wouldn't say "yes" to another documentary being made about the club, as he'd rather keep everything internal if possible, but he understands that this one was made to help the club improve its commercial revenue.

When asked about the "good feeling" evident in the documentary and how it might impact on expectations this season, Howe said he never wants to dampen supporters' excitement and sees it as his job to grow it. He wants his players to enter a pitch where the atmosphere helps them to give their best, which can then be built upon by getting good results.

On his own definition of success and expectations in 2023/24

He's reluctant to give any specific targets. However, as he also did last summer he is willing to say that he is looking for improvement in the team. He wants the team to give 100% effort in every game, to try and win every game, and to look for improvement in every area of the team's performance.

Howe is expecting this season to be tougher than last because his style of play is more well-known and opponents will give Newcastle more respect. He's still confident enough to think his players can navigate through that to still get good results and deliver a successful season.

On the Sela Cup opposition and the tournament in general

Howe says he usually prefers to play European opposition in pre-season rather than domestic opposition because the teams often play different styles. He believes that the Sela Cup will be a good rehearsal for the season ahead, given that Fiorentina and Villarreal are from two of the top leagues on the continent.

He says he's expecting to face very tough competition from both of our opponents this weekend, which is what he wanted in both games. Pre-season in general has been as difficult as it could have been to prepare his players as best as possible for the "massive" campaign ahead.

He was happy to go to the US and be a part of the Summer Series, especially considering how many Newcastle supporters they saw while on tour. However, he still maintains that it's important to play in front of your "home" fans in pre-season.

Howe's planning to play "two balanced XIs" over the weekend and has not decided on his starting XI for the Aston Villa game next week. He wants to pick two competitive sides to try and win both games, but there are places up for grabs. He wants to see two really good performances and to come through with a "clean bill of health".

On Elliot Anderson and Lewis Miley's pre-season performances

He's hoping that Anderson will have a big impact in 2023/24, as he's come back in pre-season incredibly fit and looking incredibly motivated.

Many aspects of his game are improving and given the number of games the club has to play this season he's expecting him to feature a lot. He's currently knocking on the door of the starting XI, and Howe credits his loan to Bristol Rovers massively with his development.

He says it's great to see two players of such talent coming through the academy, especially when their technical ability is so high, and he hopes there are more to come in the future. He understands how much Newcastle fans love to see youngsters coming through.

And, while he's reluctant to put "too much pressure" on Miley, he thinks he's "possibly" ready to start games in the league.

On Kieran Trippier and his general feelings about "older" players

He doesn't judge any player purely by their age and feels it all comes down to the individual's character and injury history. Trippier is in great form, fit and motivated, and had a very good summer. Howe's hoping for another big season from our on-field captain and said he never looked fatigued in 2022/23 despite playing almost every minute.

He doesn't want to think about Newcastle United without Trippier as part of the club but knows the time will eventually come, as it will for everyone. Right now, though, Trippier is a leader in the group, sets the standard in training, and sets the standard in terms of the attitude the rest of the players need to show to be successful.

Because Trippier's game has always been about his technical ability rather than his pace or one particular standout attribute, he believes he can probably play longer at the top level than most.

On moves for Harrison Ashby, Garang Kuol, Ryan Fraser, Isaac Hayden, and Jeff Hendrick

Howe met with Kuol yesterday and had "a really good chat", stating that he expects his loan move (to FC Voldendam of the Dutch Eredivisie) to be completed today. There has been no further movement on Fraser, Hayden, or Hendrick, who are all still training away from the main group.

Ashby will definitely head to Swansea on loan, which will be crucial for his development as he's never had a clear run of games in senior football. He recognises he's done well in pre-season, but he won't get the regular football he needs here.

On the club's response to the negative reaction to the membership ballot

Howe praised the speed of the club's response to the membership ballot issues and says that it's always incredibly important to listen to supporters and to respond quickly to their concerns.