Steve Bruce has claimed his players responded to “heavy criticism” with a battling but losing display against Man City.
The Magpies are now without a win in four matches in all competitions.
But Bruce and his side at least avoided a hammering against the Citizens.
He said: “The attitude was pleasing after a difficult week or so, you always know you will come here against a world-class team and we were beaten by the better side.
“It was a decent performance.
“The game in midweek has gone, we needed to respond to the criticism and they have done as much as they could. They rolled their sleeves up and had a go.
“You accept mistakes, the one thing I wanted to see was a response from a poor display in midweek and they did that.
“We’ve had big problems which seems to have gone unnoticed and we need a fit and healthy squad back soon. It has been a struggle.”