Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe and on-field captain Kieran Trippier spoke to the assembled media ahead of game two of the Premier League US Summer Series against Chelsea at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta last night.
Here's everything they were asked and all of their responses, summarised for your reading pleasure:
Keith Downie (Sky Sports): Eddie, I'll start with you if you don't mind. What is it like welcoming Chelsea to your new home here in Atlanta?
Eddie Howe: Nice, just seeing Mauricio (Pochettino) on the way out there. Really looking forward to the game. It's a great game for us. They're (Chelsea) training on the pitch; I don't know how they managed to get one up on us there, but fair play to them.
Keith Downie (Sky Sports): We watched a bit of the training session earlier. How are the players dealing with the heat? It certainly feels a lot hotter here than it was in Philadelphia.
Eddie Howe: Tripps (Kieran Trippier) will give you a better answer probably than me, but it was hot today. That's the hottest it's been by a long way and, of course, we train a little bit later today, so the temperatures were even a little bit uncomfortable for me and I wasn't running around. But it was a good session today; the lads enjoyed their work and hopefully, we give a good performance tomorrow.
Keith Downie (Sky Sports): Harvey (Barnes) is up to full speed by the looks of things. I think you even gave him some extra running after the session. Where is he in terms of his preparation for the season? Is he alongside the rest of the lads?
Eddie Howe: I'd say he's probably slightly behind where our lads are at the moment only because there was a period of five to six days where he was training on his own. You can do the fitness work; you just lose a little bit of sharpness with the ball. I think that within two to three to four days, he'll be in a really good place with us if he joins in with the group sessions and of course now we have a period of two games in quick succession, so we hope that will certainly help him get ready.
Keith Downie (Sky Sports): Are you in a position at all to give us an update on Allan Saint-Maximin and his potential departure?
Eddie Howe: I don't really know what's happening there, but of course, if nothing officially has come out then the deal's not completed.
Keith Downie (Sky Sports): Kieran, can I ask you a couple? How much you're looking forward to playing here tomorrow in Atlanta? I believe it's a sellout and you've had a chance to meet some of the Newcastle fans based here this morning which gives you an idea of just what the support is like here.
Kieran Trippier: Really looking forward to it. For the fans to come to watch us train, to watch how we work, and to connect together was important. I feel like the game tomorrow, I'm really looking forward to it. Really nice stadium against top opposition. It's just excitement; great experience for the lads to play in the stadium and against a tough team.
Keith Downie (Sky Sports): What kind of role do you play individually as part of the leadership group? You were a captain when you started last season. I saw the video of you talking to Sandro when he arrived and said, "Look, if there's anything you need help with on or off the pitch, let me know." Harvey's obviously in there now as well. Can you just give us a little bit of a flavour and example of the kind of things you do to help these guys settle?
Kieran Trippier: I think it's always important because when players come from different countries, I know how hard it is. When I went to Spain, it was difficult. So it's always important when a new player comes to the team. Not just myself, we've got plenty of experienced players in the dressing room. Leadership comes in different ways on and off the pitch. I think we've got that real togetherness in the team from the leadership group. Every player that comes in should feel valued, should feel welcome straight away and I hope that the players feel that way.
Keith Downie (Sky Sports): Is that something you maybe didn't appreciate so much before you went to Madrid?
Kieran Trippier: At Madrid, it was tough, but again, I had good players who had played in the Premier League who spoke English, who helped me settle quickly, and my family, which was the most important thing. As I said in the video, it's important that Sandro's family settles because ultimately that'll make him feel settled and make him perform at the highest level as long as he's happy without him knowing that his family is settled.
Craig Hope (Daily Mail): Mauricio Pochettino has just sat there and spoken about wanting more players as you all seemed to do at this time of year. Where are you on with that? We saw that today you've got Amanda, Mehrdad, Dan Ashworth, Andy. Everyone's here. Are you working behind the scenes with regard to the next one?
Eddie Howe: I don't think that work ever stops. We are aware that we want to improve the depth of our squad. We're currently working towards that but no updates on any targets getting closer. We're still in the phase where we're trying our best. We have a full team with us, trying to help us get those deals done.
Craig Hope (Daily Mail): There are a few reports today of different players going out on loan. Can you update us on Jamal Lewis and Garang Kuol? I think Harrison Ashby's been linked with a move as well. Is there anything you can say about those three?
Eddie Howe: Jamal Lewis is probably the nearest to securing a loan move to Watford. That one is in the pipeline, looks like it'll get done in probably the next 24 hours. The other two, no updates. I don't think anything is close.
Craig Hope (Daily Mail): And Karl Darlow going to Leeds?
Eddie Howe: Karl, that's a possible one that might happen within the next few days. He would certainly go with our best wishes. He's been an incredible servant to the football club. We value him very highly but we can't carry a team of five goalkeepers.
American Journalist: Just a follow-up question about Sandro Tonali, just from your perspective, how would you view how he's acclimating to life in England and becoming a part of the Newcastle family?
Eddie Howe: Yeah, very good. I think I've been very impressed from day one with Sandro. It's very difficult, as Kieran alluded to, to settle in a new country, a new style of football, a new team, and new teammates, but from day one with him, he was very calm, and composed. He looks like he has a great mentality for new challenges. I think this trip will really help him settle in with the group. You get to spend all your free time with your teammates and there's no better way of getting to know them and feel acclimatised into the team than actually spending time with people and also on the pitch. When you play a game, suddenly the dynamic between you and your teammates changes. So those games that we have coming up are an important part of his process of learning how to play for Newcastle.
Oscar Paul (The Sun): A similar question really on Sandro, how is he getting on behind the scenes? He seems like a quiet guy, have you seen a different side to him yet?
Kieran Trippier: Not yet, it's only early days, but Sandro, always as a player, lets his football speak for itself. I've played against him a few times now when I was in Atlético and for England. We've bought a top-quality player who can help us move forward. Behind the scenes, he interacts, he's not been there long but his English is getting better. That'll take a bit of time, but the most important thing is we've got a great squad, we've got great togetherness in the squad who will make everybody feel welcome. On the pitch, the football does the talking, so he's settling in very quickly, that's for sure.
Simon Bird (The Mirror): It's a very important time to bond the squad. Can I ask you what you've been doing off the pitch? We've seen a few pictures of you playing baseball, were you any good at it, was anyone any good at it and any home runs, that kind of thing?
Kieran Trippier: There were a lot of home runs. But obviously, when you come on pre-season, it's always important to do activities because it brings the squad together. We showed that last season, how strong we were mentally together as a team, it's so powerful. So, this season, with new signings coming in, team events like having a wander around the city, or like you say, baseball or whatever, it's always important to bring everyone together. I said last season it did wonders for us. Now, we're hoping to move forward this season.
Simon Bird (The Mirror): Can you give us a name for the home run scorer and the chief pitcher?
Kieran Trippier: I think (Karl) Darlow and (Jacob) Murphy hit a lot of home runs, I was surprised. I was a bit well, I thought, I was expecting a bit better from some players, but a few people surprised me as well. It was a good laugh, and as we said before, about the togetherness, it's important.
Simon Bird (The Mirror): Have you been allowed a few beers?
Kieran Trippier: No, no chance. Pre-season, you've had your time to, you know, have a couple of weeks off and now it's about working out and getting ready for a tough demanding season, and I mean, we will be ready.
George Caulkin (The Athletic): My question is about Sandro as well, but sort of thinking about it. You're sitting next to your first signing, a huge statement, La Liga winner, England international, but joining a team that was in the relegation battle, there was a sort of leap of faith there. Sandro joins a team with a similar sort of skill set but that's in the Champions League. Is that a different statement by the club and what does it represent, do you think?
Eddie Howe: Yeah, I always think with new signings the word "statement" is used a lot now - "it's a statement signing" For me as a manager, there's no type of statement trying to be made. We just want to bring really good players to the football club who we feel can take the club onto another level, team to another level. Going back to Kieran's situation, his was a massive leap of faith in us and me. We had a relationship from a previous club, but I also thought it spoke volumes for his character that he was prepared to take on a challenge like that with the team in the relegation zone. Even if the club had gone into the Championship, Kieran would have stayed and tried to fight to get Newcastle out of the Championship. So it was an amazing thing and I'm so pleased with Kieran that he's now benefiting from that trust. The club's done well and he's done unbelievably well in the team. Sandro is just another very good player that we feel can elevate the team, but I don't want to put too much pressure on him. We think he is a top player and we certainly look forward to seeing him in the Premier League. I think he'll be a big success.
Lee Ryder (The Chronicle): It would be remiss not to talk about Almiron coming back here tomorrow night. I mean, he can light up that stage?
Eddie Howe: Well, I just walked around the stadium there, wow, what a stadium. I didn't expect it to be honest, I hadn't really seen any pictures of the stadium before, it's a very unique arena. Considering Almiron's history, he'd be delighted to come back and show everybody how he's developed as a player and how well he's done in his career since leaving. I know he speaks really fondly of his time, he loved his experiences and the people that he met, and I'm sure everyone will greet him really well. I think it'll be a really touching moment actually.
Lee Ryder (The Chronicle): He's the captain of Paraguay, do his leadership skills not get a decent mention in Newcastle?
Eddie Howe: I think Miggy's the type of player that leads by example rather than words. He's just an infectious character, he makes me laugh just thinking about him on a daily basis because he just gives 100% in every training session. He's very professional, probably along with Kieran, he's one of the first in after a game the next day to recover, to look after his body. He really deserves all the success he gets because of how he conducts himself in his personal life and how professional he is. I was delighted he had the season he had last year and now we hope that he can push on and do even better next year.
Lee Ryder (The Chronicle): Just one on transfers. Have you got a number in your head of how many players might come through, one, two, three, anything you can throw us?
Eddie Howe: I think a number is difficult because as soon as I say that then we immediately put ourselves under pressure. I hope we can do more business, I think we need to, but it won't be huge numbers. It won't be loads of players coming through the door because we don't have the financial ability to do that with Financial Fair Play. So hopefully, it'll be quality over quantity.
Ben Jacobs: Eddie, since just before the World Cup, you've managed against Chelsea with Graham Potter in the dugout, with Frank Lampard in the dugout, and now in pre-season with Mauricio Pochettino in the dugout. What have you made of all the changes at Chelsea, and how do you see them faring heading into the new season?
Eddie Howe: I think it goes with the territory in the Premier League. If you look at the list of managers at the start of the season, I can probably promise that won't be the list at the end. It's a very unpredictable profession, you don't know what's around the corner, and that wouldn't have been Chelsea's plan for sure to change their managers during the season, but that's just how it worked out. I think you speak about quality managers there that have lost their job for whatever reason, and that shows how hard the Premier League is. I think Chelsea will be strong this year. I've got no doubt about that. They've got a top manager and they've got top players as well. They've certainly gone very young in the transfer market, but young with top players who will only get better from the experiences they get playing in the Premier League this year.
Keith Downie (Sky Sports): You mentioned one of the players who came in first in the morning, I believe, is Kieran. Just before pre-season, I think you gave the international players an extra week or 10 days off, but I think Kieran was the only one that came back early. What was the reason for that?
Eddie Howe: For me, it spoke volumes again for his professionalism. I think he wanted to be there to help the players, to get fit himself, and just focus on the season ahead. I was delighted to welcome him back although, of course, wary that every player needs a rest and a break, mentally and physically sometimes. But we're trying to manage Kieran's preseason so he doesn't do too much so when the season starts he's physically ready.
Keith Downie (Sky Sports): Kieran, what was your reason for coming back early?
Kieran Trippier: My holiday finished early! Yeah, I had my break but I'm just one of those players where I do miss it, you know, and I can't have too long off, as crazy as that sounds, really, even though I was with England in the summer. It was always going to be my plan to come back in on the first day with the lads who were away on international duty. I just wanted to get ready for this season really, and it's going to be a demanding season, but I wanted to get as fit as I can as quickly as possible and be ready. It's more excitement really because you miss the lads, you miss being around the surroundings and I just wanted to get back in and prepare well for the new season.
Lee Ryder (The Chronicle): About pre-season results, you want to win every game, I guess? The other night against Villa, 3-3 showed great determination to come back. Is that an example of how important it is even not losing these matches?
Kieran Trippier: Yeah, you want to win every game, you know, you're playing against tough opposition. We know it's a pre-season game but we were trying different things and obviously getting minutes in your legs. It's always important for every player to get minutes. But I think we've shown great character. Two nil down, we were in situations like that last season. It's about how you deal with setbacks in football, in life. Again, we've shown that real togetherness last season to come back from games where we got a draw or we got the win. Friendly or not, we want to win. And I thought we showed great character to come back against a tough team in Villa. The lads that came in, young players like Lewis Miley and Elliot, who's been pretty brilliant this pre-season, and everyone really, I think everyone gave a great account of themselves and that's what we want to do for this football club.
And if you'd just prefer to watch the full thing, here's the video courtesy of NUFC's YouTube channel:
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