With just seven Premier League games played this season, Steve Bruce’s is already under intense pressure on Tyneside. If things don’t change quickly, the club will be in the Championship next season.
Bruce’s 10-man side suffered an embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Leicester City at a sodden King Power Stadium this afternoon.
The week had started with an examination of Bruce’s tactics. The scrutiny will be even more intense this week with the club second-bottom of the Premier League following a shapeless performance. Fans fear that it could get a lot worse before it gets better.
Bruce had recalled Yoshinori Muto, Sean Longstaff and Emil Krafth to his starting XI. He also switched to a 4-4-1-1 formation.
It was a bold, attacking move from Bruce, whose tactics for the previous weekend’s goalless draw against Brighton and Hove Albion had been questioned. It was suggested that his players didn’t know their jobs in the game. That, according to Bruce, was the “biggest insult”.
Newcastle started brightly against Leicester, but they faded quickly as the rain came down.
And Ricardo Pereira, after playing a one-two with former United forward Ayoze Perez, was somehow allowed to run unchallenged from the halfway line to the edge of the box, and he squeezed the ball between Martin Dubravka and the left-hand post.
Bruce, after speaking to some of his players, persevered with the system.
However, Bruce had to change it in the 43rd minute when Isaac Hayden was sent off for a crude challenge on Dennis Praet. He protested, but he had to go. Ki Sung-yueng replaced Muto, whose first league start since Boxing Day lasted just 45 minutes.
After the break it was about damage limitation, though the half was still to prove damaging. Jamie Vardy beat Martin Dubravka at his near post to make it 2-0, and Praet shot went in off Dummett in the 56th minute. Vardy headed a fourth for Leicester.
Wilfrd Ndidi added insult to injury with a late fifth goal.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka, Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Atsu, Hayden, Longstaff, Almiron (Yedlin, 73), Muto (Ki, 45), Joelinton (Carroll, 63). Subs not used: Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Saint-Maximin.