Friday night was a reminder that there are still deep-rooted problems at Newcastle United and a good pre-season isn’t going to make it all go away.
It’s going to take a little while longer to get rid of all the clouds of the previous regime.
Sadly, the match was everything I feared it would be. Slow and tentative.
Slow to get into the game, slow to create chances, Too much time passing the ball around in no man’s land, sometimes to no one at all – trying to catch defenders out with that perfect through ball.
The trouble is, Fulham were ready for us and made it as hard as they possibly could to break them down.
We struggled to create chances and couldn’t get the goal – attack after attack seemed to break down mid-flow.
It’s all so familiar…yet I can see things getting better.
Rafa Benitez has his critics (not many of those being Newcastle fans, by the way) but I’m as confident as ever that he is the man to turn Newcastle United into a force in this (hopefully only) Championship season and beyond. He’s a top manager and even forgetting his CV, I know he will get it right.
When Rafa first came to us I was as thrilled as anyone, amazed a man with his CV even wanted to come to us. Of course, he defied the pundits when he extended his stay back in May.
However, what really got me excited was when he got as many players as he could back in training from Day 1 – on their day off.
The smiles were back at the training ground and you could see immediately he’d got the players’ respect and attention. From then on, with each passing day you felt more positive and felt that the club was finally doing things the right way.
So, while I know the first game wasn’t what we hoped for, we’d be fools to lose the faith so soon.
Rafa Benitez will get it right. Promotion is essential, however we can get it. If it’s the playoffs, so be it, if it’s not as champions then so be it.
What is vital is that as soon as possible this set of players gets a winning mentality going under Rafa.
You can follow the author on Twitter @jonniegrieve.