Things look pretty grim for Newcastle after Sunday’s heavy defeat by Leicester but I don’t think they need to press the panic button yet.
Yes, the second half at the King Power Stadium turned into a total nightmare for the Magpies but you have to remember they were down to 10 men and were playing an in-form Foxes side, who went after them relentlessly.
I actually thought the Magpies were decent defensively and held a good line until Isaac Hayden was sent off, and it was only after the break when their heads dropped and things got messy.
Leicester scored some of their goals far too easily but I don’t think that was down to a lack of effort, despite what Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles said about that after the game.
They were actually trying to get out to the ball but Leicester had too much quality in possession. Before Newcastle knew it, they were kind of burnt out, and that is when the game really got away from them.
It is embarrassing when you end up on the wrong end of a scoreline like that so I know where Lascelles is coming from but it is important that they do not dwell too much on one result, no matter how bad it was.
I have played under Bruce and I know he won’t let that happen. According to Lascelles he dished out a rollicking after the game but I’ve been in a dressing room when that has happened and he never makes it personal.
He will have been talking about what the team needs to do better as a whole. That is what his focus will be on now, and it is only September, so he has got time to put it right.
Next weekend’s home game against Manchester United is a massive one and a chance to change the mood at St James’ Park – where he is yet to get a win.
The Newcastle fans were amazing on Sunday with the way they kept on singing and stuck by their team and it would make a big difference if they could do the same next week as well.
Possession plan not working for Magpies
I don’t think the Leicester game was a true reflection of where Newcastle are at, but I know Bruce will be hurting after what happened, even in the circumstances.
He is a defensive-minded coach so to give away five goals the way they did will give him sleepless nights.
Bruce’s approach is based on his team’s structure so of course he will be unhappy to see them taken apart so comprehensively, and put up so little resistance by the end.
But I think Bruce will be just as disappointed with the way his side offered so little in attack, right from the start.
When it was 11 versus 11, they could not keep hold of the ball, and could not get up the pitch – managing only 31% of possession and four touches in total in the home penalty area.
I know Bruce has talked about wanting to play a certain way, with more possession than Newcastle have managed in the past, but it is clearly not working for them at the moment.
|Newcastle averages in Premier League|
|2018-19 (PL rank in brackets)||2019-20 (PL rank in brackets)|
|39.4% (19th)||Possession||32.33% (20th)|
|11.7 (14th)||Shots||9.1 (20th)|
|12.9 (8th)||Shots faced||14.7 (15th)|
|13.5 (5th)||Open play crosses||19.9 (16th)|
|72.8% (18th)||Passing accuracy||75.6% (16th)|
That was especially evident against Leicester, because of the way the Foxes play.
Brendan Rodgers used a high press to hassle Newcastle whenever they got on the ball, and Jamie Vardy is the ideal striker to carry that out because he works so hard up front.
As I said on Match of the Day 2, he is horrible to play against as a defender, because he gives you so little time on the ball when you are trying to build from the back.
Bruce wanted his side to pass forward, but they had no room to do it.
Carroll can offer something different up front
What Newcastle needed at times was to play a long ball, to give themselves the chance to move the team up the pitch. Then they could have started passing it around in the Leicester half.
But they did not really have a focal point to allow them to do that, because Andy Carroll was not fit enough to play a bigger part in the game.
By the time he came on, Newcastle had 10 men and Leicester were out of sight.
I admire the fact Bruce wants to play out from the back but sometimes as a defender you are told to do that and there is no-one there to take the ball off you.
With someone like Carroll on the pitch, you have a different option. You know you can hit one over the top and he will be able to hold it up and allow you to build an attack that way. It relieves the pressure on you at the back too.
I am sure he will feature more as he gets his fitness back – and Newcastle are going to need him.
Micah Richards was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan at King Power Stadium.