Steve McClaren ready for testing start to his Newcastle career

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren has spoken of his “excitement” after Newcastle United’s Premier League fixtures were published.

McClaren was appointed as the club’s new head coach last week.

To have last season’s top four inside those opening couple of months is going to be a real test, but one we will relish.

Steve McClaren

And the 54-year-old is looking forward to getting his career at St James’s Park up and running.

United open their campaign with a home game against Southampton on August 8, though the fixture will be moved because of Ronald Koeman’s side’s involvement in the Europa League two days earlier.

McClaren’s team take on Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on August 15, and Newcastle are at Manchester United the following weekend.

Arsenal will visit St James’s Park on August 29, though all the fixtures are subject to change, as Sky Sports and BT Sport will now select the first tranche of games they wish to broadcast.

United face champions Chelsea on September 26, while the Wear-Tyne derby against Sunderland is on October 24.

“Last week I was appointed head coach and that was a great moment,” said McClaren.

“But when you get the fixtures through, it really hits home and creates that extra buzz and excitement. We have a home game up first, which is always good.

“It is a home game against a top-eight side and a very good team. Southampton had a tremendous season, and probably over-achieved from what they thought at the beginning, so it is certainly an exciting fixture for us.

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

“The first four (games) are key. Then the international break comes along, so you can have a breather and a break and have a look at things.

“But to have last season’s top four inside those opening couple of months is going to be a real test, but one we will relish.

“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.”

Newcastle, unusually, are at home on Boxing Day – Everton are at St James’s Park – and the campaign ends on May 15 with a home game against Tottenham Hotspur.