Steve Bruce should now know what is NOT the answer to his Newcastle United questions – Liam Kennedy's SEVEN Leicester City loss takeaways

Another defeat for Newcastle United but maybe not as negative as weekends gone by.

Yes, it was a far from vintage Newcastle United performance but it certainly was a long way from Brentford, Leeds United, West Brom and Fulham.

Here’s what our writer Liam Kennedy made of it – as he picks out his SEVEN Newcastle United takeaways from the 2-1 Leicester City loss.

Andy Carroll gets his moment – but no one is there to watch it!

Newcastle United's English striker Andy Carroll (R) shoots to scores his team's first goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Leicester City at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on January 3, 2021.

That Carroll goal has been 10 years in the making.

Not since December 26, 2010 had Carroll hit the back of the net and when he did, with a swish of his unfailing wand of a left peg, many expected a roar to erupt. A ripple of applause was all he was afforded. A moment lost.

Steve Bruce says he's given him ‘food for thought' and although Carroll's recent sub appearances have shown his intent and purpose – he does ‘get it’ – I’m not sure he is mobile enough any more to play for United in the Premier League.

Did the Longstaffs work?

To be honest, I think the pairing was a success, but not an overriding one.

Sean Longstaff seemed to pick up a knock early doors which hampered his mobility for the first 10-15 minutes, but once he shook that off, got on the ball and composed himself, I thought he did OK. He seemed to get better as the game went on.

It was probably the opposite for his brother, Matty.

A bright opening, leading the press at times saw the midfielder really tire as the game wore on. That is no surprise given he’d barely kicked a ball before the last three games, in which he has played every minute.

THIS is NOT the answer

If Jonjo Shelvey is the answer, it is difficult to know what the question is.

He came on for Newcastle United, whose midfield were tiring and had more than ran their race over the festive period, and actually managed to make them less fluent and less energetic. It took some doing.

I know Bruce is a big fan, but it’s hard to find many others.

A team like Newcastle United cannot carry players. And when Shelvey plays, they have to.

A busy January needed?

Bruce says it will be quiet across the Premier League – it is, however, our understanding Bruce has one of two irons in the fire, with a left-back already lined up, if the Magpies choose to press the button. They also have one lined up in reserve – pointing to where they see their priorities. Another department in need of strengthening is midfield.

But will United be able to improve in this window? They need to do better than 12 months ago, with none of the three loans added being made permanent.

Some system consistency?

The manager has opted for a three at the back for the Magpies’ last three games – and to be honest, the system seems to have worked largely.

United have played on the front foot a little more, despite not really troubling the scorers, and have looked solid (ish) at the back.

It helps that they have their three best central defenders fit and in form.

Four games, one goal

Fixtures haven’t been kind to United, but this is still a stat that should raise some concerns.

It’s a run that quite simply can’t continue if United are to keep their heads above water this season.

Thing is, if they’d looked like scoring and couldn’t find the finish it would not be as much of a concern, but they haven’t.

At least they did get some kind of reward with Carroll hitting the back of the net late on against the Foxes.

Cup write off – or not?

I’m never one for the FA Cup being written off. But I’m just not really in the mood for a crack at the cup this January. Premier League safety remains a real concern despite the gap to the bottom three and with the takeover still looming around, this has to be the absolute priority.

I’d probably mix it right up next weekend and give some rest to one or two who’ve been ever-presents during the festive period.

It’s not like United were any better-placed to progress to the League Cup semi-final when they played a full-strength side against an under-strength Championship one, was it?

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