Vurnon Anita’s hoping his Newcastle United career can be reborn in the USA.
The midfielder, set to face Sacramento Republic tomorrow in California, has started the club’s first two pre-season friendlies.
And Anita, having been in and out of the team since joining from Ajax three years ago, is hoping to finally nail down a regular place in Newcastle’s starting XI under Steve McClaren.
Head coach McClaren is keen for his team to play from the back, and he has sat Anita in front of the back four alongside stand-in captain Jack Colback.
For his part, the 26-year-old feels the role he has been given is similar to that he performed at Ajax – and comes “naturally” to him.
“Everything is new,” said Anita. “It’s a new way of playing and thinking. We’re practising that, and I’m enjoying it.
It’s a new way of playing and thinking. We’re practising that, and I’m enjoying it.Vurnon Anita
“It’s a little bit similar to my former club and how we play. It’s more natural to me than before.
“That’s the main goal – to play a lot.
“I’m working on it. I want to keep on improving myself and be in the team.”
Anita, outstanding in the final game of last season against West Ham United, was also heartened by owner Mike Ashley’s statement hours before the match.
Ashley pledged to “invest” in the squad this summer – and insisted the club would now prioritise the cups.
So far, Newcastle have added Anita’s fellow Dutchmen Georginio Wijnaldum to the squad for £14.5million, while they are closing in on a number of other targets, including striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
“We want to hear that,” said Anita of Ashley’s pledge.
“We, as players, need to work for it and show everybody what we’re capable of doing.”
United were beaten 2-1 by Club Atlas in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
It was a tough first game on their pre-season tour for the Magpies, who trailed 2-0 before Moussa Sissoko’s second-half goal put them back in the match.
“It was good for us to see where we stand,” he said.
“I think in the first half we started well, then they got control.
“I think in the second half we got control. Unfortunately, we lost, but it was a good game.”
The match was staged at the Miller Park home of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team in front of 21,256 fans.
“It was a little bit different,” said Anita.
“It was a nice stadium to play in, and a lot of supporters came to the game. It was good.”
Newcastle take on Sacramento Republic at the 11,000 capacity Bonney Field in the early hours of Sunday.