Callum Wilson believes Newcastle United are now fit to compete in the Premier League – thanks to a summer of hard work and a pre-season he can be proud of.
The Magpies started last season with a 4-2 loss at home to West Ham after a second-half slump with fitness levels questioned. A year later, and after one of the most intense summers at United for years, Newcastle dominated from start to finish against Nottingham Forest in a game which Wilson believes they could have easily won 5-0.
Asked how fitness compares in 2021 and 2022, Wilson told Chronicle Live: “I can’t disagree. Opening day last year and opening day this year.
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“You saw a performance from the whole team. Everyone was still closing and pressing in the 90th minute. It just shows the hard work that has been done behind the scenes by the players and also the merit of the staff who entrusted us these tasks and got us in this place.”
Wilson knows Eddie Howe and his team better than anyone after working closely with Toon’s boss at AFC Bournemouth. The England international believes the process of Howe on the south coast is being repeated on Tyneside, but on a bigger scale.
Wilson added: “Nothing changes from my perspective, he’s (Eddie Howe) the same, I’m the same. He’s just in a different working environment and we have a good team here.
“It’s a great football club and there’s a great atmosphere. With all these things coming together, it gives a positive result. That’s what’s happening.”
United’s 2-0 win over Forest earned Newcastle their first victory of the season with Wilson joking after the game that fans didn’t have to wait until December for three points this year. But for number 9 it went well with three points and his first strike of the campaign.
Wilson said: “It was a great day in the office. As a striker you always want to start by scoring goals and as a team you want to get off to a winning start.
“They went hand in hand against Forest and we got the three points. There was a lot of emotion in the game. It was the first game of the season and the fans were excited and so were the players.
“You’re playing against a team that the majority of their squad probably haven’t played in the Premier League before, so it was a big opportunity for those guys, they also ran with five or ten percent extra.
“I think the longer the game went on the more quality and fitness levels showed. And we found the right moment to break them with that goal from Fabby. It took something spectacular for them to start to get their pockets out and when they did it should have been four or five goals to be honest.”
United had 14 attempted goals in the opening 45 minutes against Forest at St James’ Park, but the difference between last year and now was that Newcastle kept going until the job was done.
Wilson said: “We were very aware that we had a good first half but that doesn’t mean anything if you don’t build on it for the second half, the game lasts 90 minutes. For us it was important to get out and focus when we’re tired and try to put all the work we’ve done together into a full second half performance by adding goals to it.
“That’s what we did today and I think we played them down on a minimum of occasions. Thanks to the guys at the back, that’s a clean sheet and congratulations to them.”
Speaking on fitness levels after the weekend win, Howe said: “Physically the players were very good. You go through a five week pre-season, that’s what we put the players through. players, and meanwhile they work incredibly hard.
“You push them to their limits, and you push them to their limits for this day and the season ahead. You need the right levels in their bodies, and I thought they looked very good today, so I thank my staff and the players for their attitude towards this work.
“Hopefully that’s the basis for the rest of the season so we can physically give our best. I was very happy with that aspect of our game today.”
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