Date: 17th August 2007 at 10:41am
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As Big Sam confirmed his squad for the Villa game, one notable absentee was Jose Enrique, as Sam still eases the lad into the English game and lifestyle. Speaking to the media he said;

“Jose is improving but he is still a way off. He`s fit but he has not done a pre-season programme to give him the physical strength to play in the Premiership. So until he is absolutely 100% in that category, and bearing in mind he has come from a different environ-ment in Spain, I`ll take it slowly but surely with him to make sure nobody levels any sort of criticism at him too early on if he doesn`t perform to the level we know he can.”

Speaking further about the game at the weekend he added:

“I hope we don`t waste last Saturday`s win at Bolton. It`s always a huge result when you win away from home. After that the pressure`s immediately back on in your home game. If you beat Bolton 3-1, it builds expectation. You beat them comfortably and everybody comes strolling down to St James` Park thinking we`ll beat Aston Villa.

Unfortunately, that`s not the case unless you`re 100% professional in the way you approach the game. We`ve got to be technically and tactically aware of what Aston Villa are going to try and do and nullify their strengths and obviously try to exploit their weaknesses as always. We need to get that right, make fewer mistakes than the opposition and use our abilities in the right areas. My focus, and that of Nigel Pearson, has been on the players` concentration out of possession. Hopefully, we`ve learnt a big lesson from last Saturday`s game.

What we did for their goal was our own fault. It came a long way from our corner and that sort of thing becomes very, very costly. Fortunately, this time it didn`t hurt us, but the next time it will. We`ve got to cut that sort of ragged defending out. Not just from defenders, but from midfielders on the edge of the box.”