Erik ten Hag again accused Newcastle of employing delaying tactics as the Manchester United manager told his players to go and dictate Sunday’s match.
An interesting clash awaits at St James’ Park as the fifth-placed Magpies look for a victory that would see them move level on points with their visitors and usurp them in third place on goal difference.
Newcastle will have added incentive to win after losing the Carabao Cup final 2-0 to Ten Hag’s side at Wembley just five weeks ago.
The Dutchman labelled Eddie Howe’s men “annoying” ahead of that clash in the capital, warning his players and the officials to be wary of their supposed time-wasting antics.
Ten Hag repeated that message ahead of Sunday’s reunion and told United’s players to focus on imposing themselves in the north east.
“A concern? We know they delay, yeah, and it’s something that the refereeing (body) doesn’t want,” he said.
“They want to have tempo in the game. That is the aim of the Premier League, to have tempo in the game, so then they also have to be consistent to let the game go, and do and act what the policy is.”
Asked if that was Newcastle’s only tactic that irritated him, Ten Hag said: “You said now the question but it’s about us.
“Like we did in the two previous games, it’s about us. We want, as every game, to dictate, control the game.
“But we play against a good opponent. We are aware of that. They have a great season with their manager, with their way of play.
“That is really a team that’s hard to beat, but we are looking forward to the challenge.
“We already had many challenges this season and we have shown the evidence that we can beat them.”
This is United’s first Premier League match since after Ten Hag’s 10-men were held to a 0-0 home draw by rock-bottom Southampton three weeks ago.
The Red Devils have progressed to the Europa League quarter-finals and FA Cup semi-finals since then, with Marcus Rashford picking up a knock in the victory against Fulham before the international break.
Ten Hag has “good hope” that the free-scoring forward will be available to face Newcastle after withdrawing from the England squad and praised the 25-year-old for transforming himself after a poor season.
“Look, I’m not Harry Potter,” Ten Hag said, repeating a previous line that puts the emphasis on Rashford for his upturn rather than managerial wizardry.
“It’s like a process, so there are many tools you’re putting in in your management to let people get to his best form and to his best shape.
“That is about, of course, line-up, it’s about way of playing and that is about, of course, coaching. It’s about talks – informal and formal.
“It’s about coaches working with him and especially it’s a lot about himself because he’s the one and he has the skills, so when he is in the best attitude, he’s in the best mentality, then he will score goals.”
Anthony Martial could be involved for the first time in two months on Sunday following a hip issue, a boost given the absence of, among others, Casemiro, Alejandro Garnacho and Christian Eriksen.
The France forward has endured an injury-interrupted season that, along with Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit, led United to sign Wout Weghorst on loan in January.
The 30-year-old has scored twice in 18 appearances, but Ten Hag focused on his positive impact when asked if Scott McTominay, who played further forward in the academy and scored four in two games for Scotland during the international break, could be moved up front.
“I think Scott can play in many roles and it’s clear he has scoring capabilities,” Ten Hag added.
“We have seen for Scotland, but also this season already for us. He’s a really good finisher.
“But I see him as a midfielder and I think I’m happy with what Wout is doing because when Wout is in the team the team is performing better.”