With the streets around the San Siro resembling more the canals of Venice than the anticipated late summer sun metropolis of Italy's northern Lombardy region, the planned press conference was put on hold while the assembled northeast press pack did some late revision with their Italian phrase books and stocked up on Moretti and breadsticks.
Howe’s team delayed their departure for Milan until Monday lunchtime, as they ran through their paces with an early morning training session at Darsley Park but weather conditions across northern Italy caused havoc with flights across the region, putting their arrival back a few hours
AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli held his own press conference immediately after his squad trained at their Milanello training complex on Monday morning and he had this to say about the group. “We know how tough this group is: PSG probably have a slight advantage compared to the others, but the group is evenly balanced, and every point will prove vital”.
"We're aware how important it is to start off well. Bettering last season's semi-final means arriving to the final hurdle, but we just need to take one game at a time. Newcastle are the classic English team: intense, aggressive, physical, but also highlighting their technical quality.
On the return of Sandro Tonali to the San Siro Pioli was diplomatically complimentary, saying: "It'll be exciting to meet back up with Tonali, as it will for him to see AC Milan again. Sandro was very important in our growth, which took us to the title, so we'll receive him with great affection."
When Howe finally arrived, he apologised to the assembled press for the delay and immediately got stuck into the questions. And after explaining that delays were part and parcel of travelling, Howe announced that Tuesday’s game would be his first champions league game.
I've never attended a UCL game - I've also been too busy working! It will be a proud moment for everyone after so long away. We have to be at our best”.
It was natural that Howe would be probed on likely formation and line up, but he played a straight bat when asked about Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson.
Isak: “He's really impressed. The initial injury was a blow but allowed him to settle in. When he came back, he was outstanding. He's a super technician”.
Wilson: Callum's ok. Normal preparation for him.
So, no giveaways there!
On Tonali he was a little more forthcoming. “He's really committed to Newcastle. Living there, the language and everything we wanted him to do. It's very difficult to transfer from another country”. And when quizzed about signing him Howe continued the compliments, saying: “really like him as a person. Serious towards his game, which I like. He's a leader. Excited for what he can be for us - both now and the future”.
And questioned on Milan’s weekend defeat the diplomacy continued as Howe pointed out that Tuesday is a “Different competition. Different day. We can only focus on ourselves. We have to start the game well with the atmosphere. The start will be key”.