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"We will try to be as aggressive and front-footed as normal"

Thomas Frank's pre-Newcastle United press conference

20 November 2021

The latest squad news …

Mathias Jensen is back from Denmark and through his quarantine. He was in training today.

Zanka will be assessed. He is training a bit going into the weekend.

Yoane Wissa is getting closer. Let’s see if it is close enough to be involved for selection. I will make this decision on that tomorrow.

Julian Jeanvier has just started training. He is not in full contact as he has been out for a long time. He will still be a while.

Shandon Baptiste is closer; he is in contention to be in the squad for the weekend.  

Kris Ajer is going to have a scan at the end of month and that will give us a clearer update on where he is and if he can return to training and matches earlier than worse case. He is doing rehab and fighting hard to come back quick.

Recharging over the international break …

I enjoyed a couple of days rest as I know the next break is in March. I have a big engine and I work a lot of hours every week; I have also learned that I need time off to have that energy. I am sure the players felt that on Monday when I was back in and all over them in training. The energy is back up and high.

The first week was about physical; some players we need to get up to an even better fitness level, some we need to take a bit of care with, and some we need to keep ticking over. We got all the internationals back today and trained with them. Monday and Tuesday was leading into this game but also about learning from other games this season. We have been working a lot on the build-up phase and the structure I want to see while keeping the intensity in our pressure.

Eddie Howe …

He is an extremely talented manager and one of the most interesting young, English managers. His profile is fantastic and stands for progressive football, front-footed pressing, and being dominant on the ball. I admired his job at Bournemouth a lot.

He is young but he is experienced. He has been manager for ten or 11 years; He has tried and tested a lot of things at Bournemouth. The squad he has now at Newcastle is better than what he had at Bournemouth. With better players and his well-proven, structured ideas, I’m convinced that, over time, he will be a success at Newcastle.

Newcastle United …

We try as much as possible to go with our own gameplan every week but the tweaks we do to the gameplan depend on the opponents. We will try to be as aggressive and front-footed as normal. We will try to get on the ball as much as possible and create. I have an idea [about Newcastle] and that is what we prepare for. We need to be flexible.

It is impossible to predict. It is terrible timing for us when it comes to that. When you go into all the games, except for the first one against Arsenal, you can analyse their last games. A lot of teams play one, maybe two, systems and then it is maybe one player. Now there is a new manager coming in with a new style of play. We haven’t looked that much at Newcastle, apart from individual players, but rather what Eddie Howe did at Bournemouth in terms of shape and style. I am pretty sure about what I can expect on Saturday, but I can’t be 100 per cent sure about the shape.

I expect them be very aggressive, on the front-foot and pressing. They will try to dominate as much as possible on the ball. He will try to implement his philosophy from day one. He is clever so will not focus on 100 things from the first time but be very aware of making Newcastle a stable side. They will try to take things step by step and then try to add points after points after points. They are a top club so should be high up. If we can take three points on Saturday, he can take all the points he wants until we face them again.

St James’ Park atmosphere …

Going to St James’ Park and playing in front of 52,000 very supportive fans is a fantastic opportunity. We are really looking forward to it. We are aware that if they get on top of the game [the fans] will get them flying. Especially in the beginning of the game we need to get the momentum going. All the players have played in bigger games than this one. The Play-Off Semi-Finals and Final had much more at stake than this one; this is three points and we badly want the three points. However, like every other week, the other club badly want the three points.

The city and the stadium will be absolutely bouncing. The players will come flying out, focused and motivated to do what they can.

Recent managerial changes …

Football is a rollercoaster so you need to be resilient as a board because I’m convinced things will turn around. Football is such is a random game. Our last three out of four performances, we should have at least got a point out of them and could have won three of them. I will always back the board, Sporting Directors, owner to keep the Head Coach; I believe that is the best in the long run. If they don’t trust or believe in him then you need to change.  

Our recent run …

It is not easy but it is so important to stay composed and calm and do the things you do, day in day out. It is important to keep all the noise out and trust in what you do. Keeping the messages consistent in training and performances is the secret in top performing environments because then, over time, you will get the results.

Ivan Toney’s return to Tyneside …

For me, I see it as another game. Maybe he will be slightly more motivated to show but it is about that inner fire. It is important to hit that right level that you aren’t going over the top. I never see that from Ivan; he is very level-headed, very much focused and in the game. In terms of goals, Ivan is maybe the only one who believes he can score 31 goals in the Premier League, which is why he is so good. He has been fantastic in the link up and assist play in our team. He has two or three assists but should have more. He’s getting his chances; it is natural it goes a little bit up and down with strikers and goals.  

Our return so far …

In terms of performances, I would give it seven or eight out of ten. I am very pleased with that. We’ve played 11 games with one very bad half against Burnley and another not top half against West Ham. Besides that we have been consistent with good performances. In terms of points, it’s a five or six out of ten. I think we should have had more from the performances we’ve put in. If it is not 33 points from 11 games, I would never say it is fantastic. I want a bit more.

Tactical tweaks …

Today I worked on three different systems. One of our main ones and two others just to have that flexibility. It is important to keep myself, and the players, on their toes. I believe a lot in finding a system that works because of that confidence, calmness, and trust players have in knowing their positions and what we are doing. I also want to have at least one system to go to if we want to change a game. That’s how I think.

Saman Ghoddos …

I am very pleased with Saman’s attitude and hard work. In the last couple of games, he’s done well with a goal and assist. He is getting into a bit of a rhythm and is doing better and better. He is a player who has a high ceiling, but I always want a little bit more. Hopefully those bits are getting closer and closer to being fulfilled.

Myles Peart-Harris …

Myles is a player we have a big belief in. He is a very talented player. It is up to Myles to force his way into the squad. It will take him a bit more time to adapt to the way we want to do things. He is putting a lot of effort in; he needs to continue doing that.

Saturday's game is not being broadcast live in the UK so the only way for domestic fans to follow all the action is to listen on BeesPlayerJoining Mark Burridge will be former Bees favourite Isaiah Rankin.

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