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Steve Bruce ‘We have set a certain standard’ – Have I missed something???

2 weeks ago
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Steve Bruce has been talking ahead of the game against Leicester City.

Newcastle United in fifteenth place in the table, up against a visiting team that would go a point off the top and third in the table, if repeating last season’s win at St James Park.

Leicester won that match 3-0 and it was even worse for Steve Bruce down at the King Power, the Foxes scoring five but it could have been far far worse.

Can the Newcastle United team and their Head Coach hope for better this time?

Leicester City have been amazingly inconsistent this season but Brendan Rodgers has seen them win away at Spurs, Sheffield United, Leeds, Arsenal, West Brom and Man City.

Rodgers must be wondering what might have been though, as his team could have been clear at the top of a league where there is no outstanding side this time. As well as that impressive away record, Leicester at home have managed to lose to Fulham, Everton, West Ham and Aston Villa.

Steve Bruce also likes to talk about inconsistency, though massively exaggerating the positives and seriously minimising the negatives.

Newcastle United haven’t won in their last five matches and haven’t scored a goal in the last five hours of football, yet Steve Bruce has declared: ‘We have set a certain standard’ ahead of this Leicester game.

After a very fortunate 2-1 home win against West Brom, Newcastle have been hammered 5-2 by Leeds, totally outplayed by Fulham at home and fluked a draw thanks to a penalty that shouldn’t have been given, outplayed and beaten by Championship Brentford when Newcastle didn’t have an effort on target in the second half, Man City strolled to a win with Newcastle not having a single serious effort on goal.

Steve Bruce basing ‘We have set a certain standard’ purely on the Liverpool match and to an extent the Man City one.

Yes the Newcastle players battled away in both games but we knew they could do that anyway, the opposition teams still created loads of chances and without some excellent last ditch defending and the usual man of the match performances from an outstanding Karl Darlow, the two game would and should have been heavy defeats.

Steve Bruce talks about getting his team playing higher up the pitch against Liverpool and that was true to an extent, although reality is that Newcastle only had two shots on target. Callum Wilson making the chance for himself and then shooting from a narrow angle, then Ciaran Clark with a header from a set-piece.

Liverpool have been nowhere near the standards set the last two seasons except on rare occasions, their previous six Premier League matches had seen draws against clubs below Newcastle in the table – Brighton, Fulham and West Brom.

West Brom three days before the Newcastle match, had drawn 1-1 at Anfield and limited Liverpool to only two efforts on target compared to three for the Baggies, in Sam Allardyce’s three other games, WBA have lost all three at home and conceded 12 goals. This is not a Liverpool team in top form.

Fulham had completely dominated Liverpool in the first half and should have had the game won before eventually drawing, whilst Brighton had more shots (11 v 6), more efforts on target (3 v 2) and more corners (4 v 3) when drawing 1-1 with Liverpool.

Yes, take positives out of the draw at St James Park BUT Steve Bruce shouldn’t pretend it is something that it is not.

Many Liverpool fans were absolutely scathing about their team after the goalless draw at Newcastle, some of those comments really embarrassing and over the top. However, even the more rational ones were pointing out their current failings – the front three nowhere near previous form, whilst injuries have seriously weakened the midfield, leading them to a very pedestrian trio of Milner, Jones and Henderson up against Newcastle, no wonder NUFC were able to play a bit higher up the pitch. Thiago was only fit enough to come on as a late sub, Keita is out injured, whilst Fabinho had to play as an emergency centre-back due to all their first team squad central defenders out injured.

Today against Leicester will be a completely different challenge, an attacking team with loads of runners from midfield, as well as some excellent attacking full-backs (Liverpool’s usually excellent Robertson and Alexander-Arnold not really firing against Newcastle.

Newcastle have really struggled against teams that are prepared to run at them, whether it is Southampton, Man Utd, Fulham, Leeds, Brighton or whoever.

With Vardy, Barnes, Tielemans, Maddison and any number of others, can Newcastle United prove a far better team than they have shown against similar sides this season?

Will Steve Bruce be able to say after the final whistle that his team have continued to ‘set a certain standard’ in the post-match media duties.

If Bruce can do that…and the facts back him up, then we can just maybe start feeling a little bit positive again.

I really hope so. Though reality / experience tells me that it is far more likely that we will hear Steve Bruce yet again bemoaning a lack of ‘consistency’ after today’s match.

Steve Bruce talking after Liverpool and ahead of Leicester:

“We have set a certain standard and the thing that pleased me, was we were higher up the pitch.

“In the past, we have sat too deep and it is something we’ve tried to address.

“It has not been easy to address because we have played a certain way for a long time, so slowly but surely we’re getting the ideas of what we’re looking for.

“My defenders have played in a ‘low block’, as they call it, for a long time, so to take them and get them out of that, and try and get them up the pitch 20 yards, so we can be more of an attacking threat, and closer to the centre forward, is something we have been working on over the last few weeks.

“My job is to prepare and plan, it doesn’t matter what the result was.

“I have still got to prepare and plan what we’re going to do against Leicester.

“Yes, we have had a really good result which gives a bit of confidence to everybody, but I think it was the manner (of the performance) which we needed to do, after disappointing so many a couple of weeks ago.

“So more of the same and improve, see what we can do.”

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