After their energy-sapping defeat at the Etihad Stadium last time out, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe has to get his team up for the visit of Liverpool to St. James’ Park this weekend, and he has a word of warning for opposite number, Jurgen Klopp, ahead of what’s expected to be another Battle Royale.
One point separates the sides at this early stage of the campaign, and though a win won’t change too much in the grand scheme of things other than, perhaps, bragging rights, it could see the loser having to already play catch up to the league leaders, particularly if Brighton and Hove Albion have defeated West Ham on Saturday evening.
There’s no love lost between both Howe and Klopp, and whilst the mutual respect may be there, Howe won’t be becoming the German’s friend anytime soon.
“I don’t really have a relationship with any manager, I’m competing against them,” he was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.
“I find it very difficult to have personal relationships with competitors. I’ve been the same as a player. I was not one to talk to players before a game. I draw a line, and so that is just how I have always been.
“I respect Jurgen a lot. I think he’s done an incredible job. He’s an unbelievable football manager but I draw the line at friendships because they don’t exist for me.”
Whilst there may be those managers who enjoy the company of others, Howe surely won’t be alone in his outlook and way of working.
At the elite level of any sport, the level of competition is extremely high and it’s impossible to drop your guard.
That would be akin to handing your opponent a small but potentially significant advantage in the mind games that invariably go on before, during and after games.
Full focus on what’s ahead is not only sensible, it’s vital.