EDDIE HOWE is confident his Newcastle United players are capable of adopting a more positive tactical approach.

Throughout his ill-fated St James’ Park reign, Steve Bruce regularly questioned whether the players at his disposal were capable of adopting a high-pressing gameplan and suggested they were more comfortable dropping deep and looking to soak up pressure in the manner that was often adopted by Rafael Benitez.

While Bruce often spoke of wanting to play with a flat back four, he repeatedly switched to a back five when he felt under the cosh.

Made with Flourish

Howe accepts it is pointless trying to force players into a tactical outlook or formation they are uncomfortable with, but having spoken at his first press conference of wanting to play on the front foot and adopt a more attacking approach, Newcastle’s new head coach is confident his overarching beliefs can be transferred to the current Newcastle squad.

“Whenever you take over, you’ve always got a few things to think about,” said Howe, who will not be present at today’s game after testing positive for Covid. “What way of playing gets the best out of the players you have? I think you have to take that into account.

“You can’t ask players to do things they can’t do, it just won’t work. That’s an interesting dynamic, and I have to get that right in terms of what I ask the players to do.

“Are they capable of doing it? Now, the way we play on Saturday, we believe the players are capable of delivering what we want them to deliver. The performance will show that or not show that.

"Then, in time, with the work on the training ground, you can then mould the team in the way you want them to play over a longer period of time. That’s how we’re approaching it.” 

It is beneficial that in Matt Ritchie, Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson, Howe has inherited a trio of players who spent a long time working with him and his coaching staff at Bournemouth.

“Having the three players we’ve worked with has definitely helped,” said Howe.