Newcastle boss Steve McClaren unfazed by tough start

St James Park

The former Middlesbrough manager is relishing the test ahead of him and his team.

The Magpies begin their 2015/16 campaign at home to Southampton on August 8th, before making the trip to Wales a week later to face a Swansea City side buoyant after recording their highest ever points tally in the Premier League last term.

Newcastle United’s next six games see them face last season’s top four teams, twice making trips to Manchester for their City and United clashes.

McClaren was in good spirits, though, after casting an eye over the schedule and revealed that he is undaunted by the challenge that lies ahead in an interview with the club’s official website.

He said: “Last week I was appointed head coach and that was a great moment, but when you get the fixtures through it really hits home and creates that extra buzz and excitement.”

"You want to test yourself against the best straight away, especially if you are ready.”

He suggested Newcastle’s fixture list will aid his preparations for the new season given the calibre of opposition they face in the opening weeks.

He added: "It gives us a real edge going into our pre-season schedule, knowing that the work every day is vital and you have to be ready."

In what will be welcome news to the ears of Newcastle fans, McClaren made it clear he recognises the importance of the Tyne-Wear derby fixtures and will do his utmost to halt the club’s run of poor showings on such occasions in recent seasons.

"I had a good record against Sunderland but that is not important now. It was a while ago. I am now head coach of Newcastle, we have lost the last five derbies and it is about time we reversed that," he said.

Asked whether he scans the fixture list predicting points and making targets, McClaren revealed he now takes a game by game approach and aims to instill a belief that every match is winnable.

“I used to do that, working out points for certain games and months, but not anymore," he said.

“You have to go into every game preparing to win it and believing you can get three points every time you set foot on the pitch.”

The former England gaffer has made all the right sounds since his arrival on Tyneside but there is no denying Newcastle face an extremely difficult start to the season and will need to be firing on all cylinders if they are to pick up points.

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