Newcastle boss Steve Bruce criticised his side for being “too passive” after they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Monday evening.
The Magpies’ two-match winning run was ended by the brilliance of Conor Hourihane, who came back into the Villa side with two free-kicks to inspire his side to victory.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Bruce added that his side must improve in time for Saturday’s clash against champions Manchester City.
“We were too passive in the first half, we had opportunities on the counter but should have held onto the ball and should have created a bit more,” the manager said. “We surrendered it too quickly in the first half. We had one or two opportunities but were not quite there.
“There was nothing in it until half an hour, with the standards we have set it in the last couple of weeks, we were not there. We have been done by two set-pieces.
“We are up against one of the best team in the world (Manchester City) next and we have to do better than tonight if we want to get anything out of the game, We have to roll our sleeves up and get ready for it.”
Monday’s result left Newcastle in 14th in the table, five points clear of the relegation zone.