Newcastle United v Southampton: McClaren calls for statement of intent

Newcastle United begin a new era this weekend and Steve McClaren is under no illusion as to the size of the task he faces.

Steve McClaren wants his revamped Newcastle United side to turn words into performances and issue a statement of intent against Southampton in their Premier League opener.

New boss McClaren takes charge of his first competitive game at St James' Park on Sunday and could call on close-season signings such as Aleksandar Mitrovic, Chancel Mbemba and Georginio Wijnaldum.

The trio will offer the home faithful hope after the club flirted with relegation under John Carver last term and McClaren wants to usher in a new era on Tyneside with a positive showing.

Asked about the prospect of a new start for the club, the ex-Derby County head coach said: "I think every season is like that. You feel it around the city and you feel it around the players and the training ground.

"We want it to be different and it needs to be. The messages from the club over the past few weeks have been very clear, a statement of intent, following up from the owner’s words, with three very good signings and maybe more on the way.

"We've got to make that statement on the field now. It’s going to be different, a different style, different football and everybody has got to be able to adapt.

"Every season is a fresh start but for Newcastle United it’s a welcome one. The pressure is on me from the outset, without a shadow of a doubt."

Mitrovic and Mbemba may miss out this weekend due to a lack of match fitness, while Southampton have an unusual injury concern over manager Ronald Koeman. 

The Dutchman injured his Achilles in training earlier this week and, while he was present for their UEFA Europa League progression at Vitesse on Thursday, brother and assistant manager Erwin was on post-match media duties.

The Saints boss could miss the trip north, but Ryan Bertrand (knee) is ruled out and Jordy Clasie (hamstring) remains doubtful.

Southampton have beaten Newcastle in each of their last three top-flight meetings - scoring 10 and conceding just once.

And even with their midweek European commitments, Erwin Koeman refused to complain ahead of this weekend's game.

"If you play [in the] Europa League, don't complain - you have to be happy that you can play in it and happy that you start on Sunday in the Premier League," he told Southampton's official website.

"Football does not sleep - it lives every day. We have to prepare ourselves very well because [Newcastle is] a totally different game from the two against Vitesse."