Steve Bruce has bemoaned our “naive” defending in Friday night’s 4-3 defeat to Man City, feeling disappointed that we’ve come away with nothing after netting three times against the newly-crowned champions.
We twice had the lead and put up a stern fight against the Champions League favourites, but lapses in concentration and a few poor defensive mistakes cost us dearly in the end.
Speaking after the game, the NUFC boss has praised our threat on the counter and ability to score SEVEN times in our last two games against top four opposition, saying we will now focus on “getting the balance right”.
Here is what he said following the defeat:
“We’re getting that balance right now.
“We’re a threat on the counter-attack for any team but we have to get that balance right defensively.
“We can’t keep conceding the way we have because it’s not very often you can score threes or fours – although we went to Leicester and scored four and three tonight.
“We have to defend better and get the balance right. We’ve now got to try and get a couple of wins if we can and finish off the season with the form we’re in.
“We gave it a good go but when you play against these, defensively you have to be better than we were.
“Although I can’t remember my goalkeeper making save after save, the sloppiness of conceding so many goals was the disappointment of the whole evening.
“How often do you score three against this mob? Not very often.
“So the disappointing thing is we got up and we were a bit naive.
“For the way they went about their work I was delighted with them but they weren’t quite good enough.
“We’ve played two really good sides and scored a number of goals so we have to keep it at that level.
“We’ve been at that level for a while so we look a threat and it’s important we finish off well.”
Yes, we lost narrowly to Man City, a result that would never usually be considered disheartening. Many of our fans have praised the lads for the performance despite asking away with nothing.
However, context is key, and I think Bruce has every right to be slightly disappointed in his post-match interview.
We played a severely weakened City side and struggled to create anything clear-cut from open play – despite causing them problems on the counter. Defensively we were pretty poorly and had it not been for two penalties and a set-piece, we could have easily lost that game comfortably with a measly 18% possession.
There are positives; Willock was electric once again, Joelinton is showing more signs of improvement and we can be ecstatic in knowing that tonight was the last fixture at St James’ Park to be played in front of an empty crowd.
Onwards and upwards!