Eddie Howe is optimistic that the adverse weather conditions which delayed Newcastle’s arrival in Milan will not derail their Champions League campaign.
Their first taste of Champions League football in 20 years did not get off to the best start when they received special dispensation to train on Tyneside on Monday morning, rather than at the San Siro later in the day.
However, in a press conference which finally began around 9 p.m. local time, when it was originally scheduled for 7 p.m., Howe assured that preparations for a tough opening encounter with AC Milan would not be would not be hindered.
He said: “It’s just part of the work we do. It’s not unusual that this could happen. It was a weather issue, but we’ve been in similar situations.”
“It’s something we’re used to, even if it’s a slightly later arrival time than we would have liked for the players. It’s no big deal though.”
Howe and his players were due to leave Tyneside at around 2.30pm, but eventually took off around 5pm and, as the media gathered at the stadium to wait for Sandro Tonali, 45 and a former Milan midfielder, a plane followed The app suggested that ‘they were always somewhere above France.
They finally arrived at the stadium around 9 p.m., with Article 73 of governing body UEFA’s regulations stipulating: “Press conferences must begin between 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. local time. Exceptions to these times must be agreed in advance with UEFA.”
However, the PA news agency reports that a first offense will likely result in a warning rather than a harsher penalty.
Had Newcastle arrived on time, they would have done so in torrential rain as storm clouds gathered over the Italian city as a sweltering day drew to a close.
Tuesday night’s match, which will be played 26 years and two days after the Magpies beat Barcelona 3-2 in the same tournament, comes more than two decades after their last appearance in Europe’s premier club competition.
For Howe, this will be the first Champions League match he has attended, and he is relishing this one against a team who suffered a 5-1 derby defeat at the hands of neighbors Inter Milan on Saturday.
He said: “I’ve never been to one. I’ve always been too busy working to attend one. But it’s not something I’ve thought about. It’s a football match.
“Yes, it will be a very proud moment for me. I think it will be a very proud moment for everyone connected with Newcastle to be back in the Champions League after a long period of absence.
“But it’s a football match and I think that’s how we have to approach it. Yes, it’s a special match and we have to be at our best. There are slight differences in terms of ‘places we have traveled to, but the game will be the same and it will be very difficult.
The club’s final match in the competition, a 2–0 home defeat to Barcelona in March 2003, saw Shay Given, Kieron Dyer and Alan Shearer take on Frank de Boer, Xavi and Patrick Kluivert.
This time around £53million summer signing Tonali, a semi-finalist with Milan last season, will be part of a new generation attempting to write a new chapter in the club’s history.
The Italy international said: “It will be the most exciting feeling to go out again in a stadium full of people.
“They let me live my dream here at AC Milan, but now I come back as a rival. I will have a lot of feelings tomorrow.
“Everything happened so quickly with the transfer, I was overwhelmed at first, but I found a great team, a great staff and I’m playing for people who love football. The people of Newcastle will help everyone world.”