Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has challenged his players to live up to the benchmark they set themselves against Premier League champions Liverpool as they prepare to face Leicester.
The Magpies scrapped their way to a creditable 0-0 draw with Jurgen Klopp’s men at St James’ Park on Wednesday evening, four days after turning in an improved display in a 2-0 defeat at Manchester City.
A showdown with the third-placed Foxes completes and intensely difficult holiday trilogy and while Bruce insists what happened in midweek will not change his plans, he is happy his players will head into the game with their confidence levels boosted.
He said: “My job is to prepare and plan. It didn’t matter what the result was, I’ve still got to prepare a plan for what we’re going to do against Leicester, so the whole thing goes around again.
“Yes, we’ve had a really good result which gives a bit of confidence to everybody, but I think it was the manner – which we needed to do after disappointing so many a couple of weeks ago – so more of the same and improve and see what we can do.”
In recent seasons under both Bruce and predecessor Rafael Benitez, the Magpies have tended to take a prosaic approach against the big guns, sitting deep in numbers and attempting, not always successfully, to hit them on the break with what little share of the ball they have had.
Against Liverpool, they started on the front foot from a significantly advanced base and created chances throughout despite having to weather sustained pressure, and they might even have won the game had goalkeeper Alisson not clawed away Ciaran Clark’s late header.
Bruce said: “We’ve set a certain standard and the thing that pleased me was we were higher up the pitch. In the past, we’ve sat too deep.
“It’s something we’ve tried to address. It’s not been easy to address because we’ve played a certain way for a long time, so slowly but surely, we’re getting the ideas and what we’re looking for.
“It’s another tough game, though, they’re a very, very good side, Leicester, so we’ll have to be at our best again.
“They’ve been very canny in the transfer market again and taken in some really, really, top, top players. They’ve got a centre-forward who is the envy of most and he’s a terrific player, (Jamie) Vardy.
“They’re a very, very good team – that’s why they’re sitting healthily like they are.”
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