Eddie Howe is making no apologies for being a bad loser as he prepares to go head-to-head with one of the “very, very best of all time” Premier League managers.
The Newcastle head coach will send his team into battle with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Saturday evening still smarting at the 2-1 defeat they suffered at Anfield in August, courtesy of Fabio Carvalho’s strike eight minutes into stoppage time.
Klopp was less than magnanimous in victory that night, complaining over the Magpies’ game-management, and has since taken aim at their new-found spending power, prompting a stern defence by Howe.
The 45-year-old, who has made a point of insisting his team is not there to be liked but to win, said: “We are not here to do anything other than try to win the game we are competing in, and to not be the team that everyone looks at and thinks, ‘Good losers’. That’s not what we want to be.
“That is what I am trying to instil in the players every day. I want to build a winning mentality and culture.
“I don’t need any reminding of how painful losing is. I did most of that during my playing career and I hated that feeling and I tried to do everything I could to not feel that going into the next game.
“As a manager it is probably 10 times worse, maybe 100 times worse. I hated that feeling as a player and I actually detest it as a manager, so you’re preparing and working to try and stay away from that feeling for as long as possible.”
Newcastle’s defeat on Merseyside was the last they suffered in the Premier League some 17 games ago, and no visiting side has collected three points at St James’ Park since the Reds did so in April, a return which has left Howe’s men four places and nine points better off than Klopp’s, who have played a game fewer.
Klopp, who has won six major trophies – including the Champions League – since taking over at Anfield in October 2015, has come in for criticism over Liverpool’s recent form, but has an ally in Howe.
He said: “It’s the life of a manager, really. People have very, very short memories. What he’s done is incredible. How his team has played over a consistent time is unrivalled so, for me, he’s one of the very, very best of all time in the Premier League.
“All teams go through difficult moments, that’s the reality of being a manager.”
Asked about Klopp’s sometimes grumpy response to defeat, Howe added: “If you’re a good loser, then you’re probably in the wrong job.”
Meanwhile, the Magpies have been handed a boost ahead of next Sunday’s Carabao Cup final after it emerged that midfielder Joe Willock suffered only minor damage to his hamstring and has a chance of being fit, while Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin could all be in contention to face Liverpool.