Eddie Howe suggested his team’s renewed habit of patience helped Newcastle secure their first win over Sunderland since 2011.
“We were on the right side of the balance between being patient and trying to score,” he said after Newcastle snapped a run of seven defeats in their last eight games thanks to two goals from Alexander Isak in a 3-0 win at the stadium had ended the light.
“Recently we may not always have been on the right side of that balance. But we handled the initial phase of the game and the situation very well. We have taken the sting out of it. We didn’t want a transition game, we wanted to control it. The win meant a lot to us.”
With Newcastle changing their typical aggressive pressing and focusing on midfield control through Bruno Guimarães, Michael Beale’s fifth game as Sunderland manager ended in a disappointing defeat for his young players.
Accordingly, the first Tyne Wear derby since 2016 was a thoroughly relaxing experience for Howe. “We enjoyed the occasion,” he said. “It was nothing new for us and a normal day in the sense that we played high-profile Champions League and Premier League games this season. The atmosphere was not too dissimilar to games in Milan or Paris Saint-Germain.
“The win means a lot. This game is hugely important and the most important thing is that we have self-confidence again. It’s been a frustrating time for us and our injuries are still a big problem, but physically we look stronger. The extra equipment was back. And not only did we win the game, we also kept a clean sheet.”
In addition to Guimarães and Miguel Almirón, Howe particularly praised Kieran Trippier, who had problems at right-back. “Kieran was excellent,” he said. “He showed his experience. He made good decisions.”
For his part, Sunderland manager Michael Beale was confident. “Let’s be honest, there was a gap between the two teams, we tried to close it but over 90 minutes we couldn’t,” he said.
“In the first half we defended well for the most part, but we didn’t show enough quality. We talked about being brave at half-time and pushing further up the pitch, but we got off to the worst start to the second half by conceding the second goal. We shot ourselves straight in the foot.
“Newcastle beat PSG this season, they got to know and experience football at a higher level. Their expertise and experience made the difference. It’s a big jump from the Championship to the Premier League.”
The former Rangers coach covered up his disappointment with medium-term optimism for the youngest team in the second division. “It’s a terrible feeling now but it’s nice that we still have 20 games left in the Championship and can be optimistic like everyone else about getting into the play-offs,” he said. “I know our players can do better than today.
“Our vision here is to give young players the opportunity to develop and grow, but if this model was easy everyone would be doing it. Our youth is not a problem in the Championship but there was a financial gap and an experience gap with Newcastle that we were unable to fill.”