Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe has warned his players to expect a Manchester City backlash as they attempt to bounce back from their Champions League misery.
City were minutes away from booking a mouth-watering final with Premier League rivals Liverpool on Wednesday evening when Real Madrid staged a remarkable last-gasp fightback to overhaul them in a dramatic conclusion at the Bernabeu.
Pep Guardiola’s men travelled home licking their wounds as their latest European mission ended in another failure, but Howe is in little doubt as to what awaits his team when they run out at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to face a City side locked in a battle with the Reds for the league title.
Asked how they might be affected emotionally by their midweek disappointment, Howe said: “Well, it can work both ways, can’t it? You can be emotionally affected for the positive or the negative, you don’t know.
“From our perspective, we will 100 per cent prepare for the best Manchester City and in that respect, we have to be the best Newcastle we can be.”
Howe’s caution is based on his knowledge of Guardiola’s ability to re-focus his troops, and the belief that they were unfortunate not to prevail in Spain.
He said: “It was a very difficult moment for them, I’m sure, because with very little time of the game remaining, you’re thinking that they’ve gone through, and they had chances to extend that lead.
“It just goes to show the beauty – not in their eyes – but the beauty of football in the fact that it’s so unpredictable, the game is never up until it’s over.
“I thought they were extremely unfortunate. When you go away to Real Madrid, you know how difficult that game is and I thought they got a lot of aspects of their game right. Unfortunately, they go away and exit the competition.
“I know that will be painful for them, but we know they’ve got one of the best managers in the world to re-group and inspire them to come back again, and that’s what we have to be prepared for.”
Howe was disappointed with Newcastle’s display in defeat by Liverpool at St James’ Park last Saturday and is hoping for greater intensity this time around.
To that end, he could be boosted by the return of England full-back Kieran Trippier, who has been out of action with a fractured metatarsal since February 13, and leading scorer Callum Wilson, who last played on December 27 as a result of Achilles and calf problems.