Steve Bruce has warned his Newcastle team they will have to be better than they were against Brighton last week if they want to avoid another scrap for Premier League survival.
The Magpies emerged from their showdown with the Seagulls at St James’ Park last Saturday with a point from a 0-0 draw, but were outplayed for long periods and booed off the pitch at both half-time and full-time by their own fans.
Head coach Bruce was swift in the immediate aftermath to search for what positives there were, but as he prepares for Sunday’s trip to Leicester, he acknowledged that the display was simply not good enough.
He said: “Listen, we didn’t play well, we didn’t play well enough with or without the ball. Does it concern me? It always concerns a coach or a manager when you don’t play well enough. It is disappointing.
“But we didn’t lose the game. Yes, we have to improve. If we’re going to make a fist of it this year, we have to be better than we were last week, quite simple.
“It’s another opportunity on Sunday. We’ve got a few back from injury, which will make us it slightly better, I hope, and we’ll crack on.”
The return of midfielder Sean Longstaff is a boost, although one tempered by the loss of Jonjo Shelvey to a hamstring problem, but Bruce knows the degree of difficulty will increase substantially this weekend against a club doing its best to break into the top six under Brendan Rodgers.
The Magpies lost on penalties when the sides met on Tyneside in the Carabao Cup in August, but the stakes will be considerably higher at the King Power Stadium this weekend.
Bruce said: “It was one of the great achievements when they won the Premier League, and how we all were delighted that a small club – no disrespect to Leicester… It was fantastic for everybody.
“Since then, they have obviously made a couple of changes, brought in Brendan and are playing in a certain way, but what you can’t underestimate is that the core of the team that’s been together a long time is very, very good from the goalkeeper to the centre-backs to the midfield players, and they’re a very good side.
“Whether they will get into the top six remains to be seen.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.