EDDIE HOWE won’t just be making his managerial debut in the Champions League this evening – the Newcastle United head coach will also be attending a game in Europe’s premier club competition for the very first time.

Newcastle return to European football’s top table for the first time in more than two decades when they take on AC Milan at the San Siro.

There is a smattering of Champions League experience within the Newcastle squad, with the likes of Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar and Bruno Guimaraes having previously played in the competition, but the majority of Magpies players will be getting their first taste of Champions League action.


The same is true of Howe, indeed not only has Newcastle’s head coach not managed at Europe’s most elite level, he has not even been to a Champions League game before.

“I’ve never attended a Champions League game before,” confirmed Howe. “I’ve always been too busy working to take one in. It’s not something I’ve really given any thought to. It’s a game of football.

“I think it’ll be a proud moment for me, and it’ll be a proud moment for everyone connected with Newcastle to be back in the Champions League after a long period away.

“But it’s a game of football, and that’s how we have to approach it. Yes, it’s a special game and we have to be at our best. There’s a slight difference in terms of where we’ve travelled, but the game will be the same, albeit in a different country.”

Newcastle’s approach to tonight’s fixture reflects Howe’s desire to treat it as ‘any other game’ rather than overinflate the importance of being back in the Champions League.

Howe opted to remain on Tyneside to train yesterday morning, with a delayed flight meaning Newcastle’s players did not even land in Italy until around 8pm.

Sandro Tonali was the only player to head to the San Siro, to conduct press duties, with Howe opting to send the rest of the squad straight to the team hotel rather than give them the opportunity to experience the stadium they will be playing in this evening.

“I think that’s probably overrated,” said Howe. “Some would have been here before, some wouldn’t. Yes, every player will probably feel slightly different, but it’s nothing we haven’t experienced before.

“I’m really looking forward to experiencing the stadium and the atmosphere, and the sense of managing in this environment. But I always think when the game kicks off, all of that is not at the forefront of your thoughts at all.

“It’s not about what ground you’re in, it’s about the game and making sure we’re competitive and we can execute our plan onto them and be the best version of ourselves we can be. It’s maybe something you think about before and afterwards, but not during.”