Newcastle United are under strict instructions to make sure there are no mistakes when they tackle West Bromwich Albion in their third-round Carling Cup tie at St James' Park tonight.
Newcastle's failure to qualify for the Champions' League proper has altered their attitude towards the Carling Cup. The fact that Newcastle are expecting a 40,000 crowd for the game will also put more onus on a victory for Sir Bobby Robson's side.
Robson said: "The West Bromwich game is an important one for us. Although I was disappointed to lose to Everton in the Worthington Cup at this stage last season, I always knew I would not be too upset if we went on to the second stage of the Champions' League because we've had a lot of games and this proved to be the case.
"But it's fair to say that things are a little different this season," Robson added, "and we really want to do well in this competition. I have spoken to the players, and make no mistake about it, they are fully aware of the importance of tonight's game."
With a hectic schedule coming up Robson is expecting to rest one or two players, with Steve Harper replacing Shay Given in goal and Lomana LuaLua getting a rare start up front. But Robson stressed: "I have not picked the team to lose and I will be very angry if we do. If we did, it would be reflected in the team I select to play against Aston Villa here on Saturday."
October has been a good month for Newcastle after a disappointing September. They have won their four Premiership games as well as beating NAC Breda in the Uefa Cup. This makes Robson favourite for the Manager of the Month award, although he brushes aside any suggestions that he will be picking up the trophy later this week.
Instead he said: "We still have a long way to go and we must not be complacent. We have always had players of class and talent here and we know that, but our little run has given them the chance to regain the belief in themselves and also the confidence in themselves."Reuse content