Eddie Howe praised his rearguard as Newcastle took a point from a goalless draw with Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The south-coast stalemate means both sides remain unbeaten after two games of the fledgling campaign. Chances were at a premium, with the Magpies having to dig deep to keep Graham Potter’s men at bay. The hosts enjoyed the better opportunities throughout the 90 minutes. And Howe recognised that taking something from the game was a bonus.
“I’m always disappointed not to win but very pleased with a point in the end, especially in the second half,” he told reporters.
“It was a difficult second half, Brighton played very well, we rode our luck at times. We dug in, showed a great spirit and unity, and got a valuable point.”
The former Bournemouth chief deployed Dan Burn at left-back as cover for the injured Matt Targett. And Howe was delighted with the way he went about his work.
“I thought Dan did great today. It’s difficult, although it’s a small transition across the pitch, it’s a huge one at the same time,” he added.
“He hadn’t played left-back for a long time but I thought he did very well today against his former team and made one crucial block at a key time in the game.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with his attitude.”
And the boss also praised the way Sven Botman combined well with Fabian Schar to stand firm in the face of relentless Seagulls pressure.
“I thought he did very well. He looked composed, solid and had a good partnership with Fabby,” he continued. “I was very pleased with him and I thought he used the ball very well, especially in the first half.
“To come here and be part of a backline that keeps a clean sheet albeit wasn’t always calm at the back.”
Howe hails Pope class
Goalkeeper Nick Pope was also a busy man and pulled off a number of top saves. He denied Adam Lallana, whose second-half header looked to be heading into the net.
And Howe feels he has signed a player who could have a real impact for Newcastle.
“He’s a very relaxed figure, very popular in the dressing room and has a real calmness about him,” he added to BBC Sport. “The save from Lallana was top class.
“You’re only as solid as your defence, I think we’ve changed personnel, added strength and added depth. And now we’ve got some very good characters in that unit.
“And I think you saw that today, because we were under the cosh but we stayed calm and we battled through it.”
Next up for the Tynesiders is the challenge of facing champions Manchester City on home soil next Sunday. Pep Guardiola’s side seem as strong as ever. And it will be a good gauge as to how far Newcastle have come.