Newcastle United are going Dutch under Steve McClaren – and playing the right way.
That’s the verdict of midfielder Vurnon Anita after Sunday’s season-opening 2-2 draw against Southampton.
Anita – who was stretchered off after falling awkwardly at St James’s Park – is positive about the outlook for Newcastle this season under McClaren.
The club’s new head coach is keen for his team to play from the back – and attack with pace and purpose.
McClaren felt the move that led to Georginio Wijnaldum’s strike illustrated the type of football he’s keen to bring to St James’s Park.
Anita, signed from Ajax three years ago, believes McClaren – who had two spells in charge of Dutch side FC Twente – has been influenced by his time in Holland.
And the Holland international is enjoying his new role in front of the back four.
“I think it helps that the manager has experience of Dutch football and has a style that is fairly similar to what I would be used to in Holland,” said Anita, one of the five Dutchman to make it on to the pitch for Untied against Southampton.
“The way he sets his team up is fairly similar to a lot of Dutch sides, and the role I am playing now is the most similar to the one I used to play in at Ajax.
“I’m used to what he is asking me to do, so the position feels a little bit more like it is your own. Hopefully, that will mean I can fit in more easily than maybe before.”
Anita was replaced by Cheick Tiote in the 68th minute. While he left the field on a stretcher, Anita, was able to walk out of St James’s Park, and he is hopeful his injury is not serious.
“I don’t know quite how bad the injury is yet,” he said. “I felt a pain in my back, and when I tried to stand up, the pain was so bad that I couldn’t walk.
“It feels a little bit better now, but it won’t really be until I get a few tests that we’ll see what’s up.
“I tried to put pressure on my left leg when I stood up, but I couldn’t. I’ve had a lot of ice on it, so we’ll see how it feels after a little bit of time.
“Hopefully, I won’t need a scan or anything like that.
On the game itself, Anita added: “We’re happy with most of the things we did.
“I thought we started sharply, and we dominated for large periods. We played well for most of the time, but we didn’t win and that’s obviously a disappointment.”