Newcastle 1 Fulham 3 – Saturday 11 March 2017 3pm

Right then. I’m not sure anyone’s going to enjoy this much, given that my job here is to recount the worst performance of the season and all, but I’ll push on. This is the age of the information superhighway after all and the tale of this dismal defeat will be of interest to perusing Fulham fans, or obsessed mackems of course, who may be flicking through our site.

Two things happened today: United turned in their season low display and we saw the best team to visit St James this year put in an inspired showing. There was only going to be one winner from that equation really.

Not wanting to make excuses…but the schedule of Brighton to Huddersfield to Reading within a week, seemed to have taken its toll on a sluggish home team that had Dwight Gayle restored to the starting role up front. I sincerely hope that Gayle is re-establishing fitness as opposed to being included prematurely (perhaps with an eye on Chris Wood’s prominence in the leading scorer chart?) as this forgettable display at the head of a toothless attack was far from vintage Dwight.

Unfortunately, our number 9 was left chasing hopeful balls over the top as Newcastle resorted to long ball Larry tactics, largely due to the anonymity of an out of sorts Shelvey. By contrast, Tom Cairney was dominant in the middle of the park for Fulham. When the home defence panicked wildly at a counter attack and hashed the clearance, Cairney was on hand on 15 minutes to lash an unstoppable drive into the top corner, Darlow no chance.

The hope was that at half-time Rafa could regalvanise the team into something resembling league leaders but this hope swiftly dissipated, as Fulham doubled their lead within 5 minutes, Ryan Sessegnon slotting home Aluko’s back heel after carnage created by, yes, another swift counter attack.

Sessegnon had absolutely tore up the left hand side with ridiculous pace that few full backs could cope with. Annoyingly, we have one of those few full-backs as DeAndre Yedlin can match most of the human population for pace, but a niggling injury for him, saw Anita thrown in at right-back for one of the worst afternoons of his life, as the 16 year old dominated the flank.

Nine minutes later the game was over entirely, as Sessegnon slotted in his second and Fulham’s third. With half an hour remaining the feeling from the stands was more of fear as to how bad it could get, as opposed to hope for a Bristol City style salvage job.

Daryl Murphy, on for Gayle, affected some degree of salvage with a smart turn and shot on the edge of the box to give some respectability but the wave of pressure that should have followed was lacking, as Colback, Atsu Diame and Dummett all veered from the anonymous to the downright stinking in a thoroughly turgid team showing. The sight of perennial bright spark Ciaran Clark being subbed off with a knock, has to instil fear for the coming matches without his goal-saving interventions.

In the dying moments the spent Dummett fouled Sessegnon to give the teenager the chance at a memorable and deserved hat-trick from the spot. However, miserable self-promoter Tim Ream shoved the youngster aside to take for himself a kick that had zero chance of influencing the result. It was a small happy note to see him miss pathetically.

A fifth home defeat of the season and, with due credit to Fulham, an absolute horror show. Since being mugged by Blackburn in November, the home performances have veered from the efficient but unspectacular (Forest, Villa) to the shambolic (this, Bristol City, Sheffield Wed) with only two thoroughly convincing showings, coincidentally both against our next opponents, Birmingham. Let’s hope this is replicated at St Andrew’s as the persistence of Brighton and Huddersfield means our automatic spot is once again looking under threat.

Following Brum there are a pair of unquestionable must win games here v Wigan and Burton. Bankers on paper but if you look at their place in the table they are surrounded by sides who have taken points at SJP. The failure to fire at home is becoming a real concern, as letting sides come at us is neither practical nor acceptable.

It’s a hard competition but for me Mo Diame was the worst of a bad bunch today, with our lack of creativity from the number ten spot leaving everything to Shelvey. This has caused problems at home in the Championship but would be disastrous in the Premier League. If and when we do find our way over the line, I’d hope this is where the rebuilding starts.

We also need some lively candidates up the left hand side. Spotted a contender here today mind, here’s hoping NUFC can stay on track to be a bigger draw next season.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Fulham 3

Goals

Newcastle: Murphy 76

Fulham: Cairney 15, Sessegnon 51, 59

Possession was Fulham  62% Newcastle 38%

Total shots were  Fulham 11 Newcastle 11

Shots on target were Fulham 4 Newcastle 4

Corners were  Fulham 7 Newcastle 5

Referee: James Linington

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Clark (Gamez 64), Dummett, Colback, Ritchie, Shelvey, Atsu, Diame (Murphy 61), Gayle (Gouffran 74)

Unused Subs

Elliot, Hanley, Perez, Mitrovic

Crowd: 51,903

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

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  • Andy Mac

    Interesting view but my 100% solution to the problem at home is to

    a. get a safe standing section asap
    b. move out those who want to Ssshhh people who make a noise and relocate them to other parts of the ground
    c. give all those who sign up to the safe stand/singing section a 50% reduction on their Season Tickets

    Job done !

  • Blackburn1066

    Well said Andy Mac been thinking that for years all the bottom tears should be standing I used to love it great fun and brings out the comedy in folk.

  • toonterrier

    The biggest problem at home is the negative tactics. As for the standing areas I loved it years ago but now I’m past my sell by date I found it bloody awful when the bloke in front of me spent more time standing up when nothing exciting was happening on the pitch so had to tell him to park his bus so us old folk could watch the game. Don’t mind the jumping up and waving your arms when we score as its what we all do but not all the time. Must admit though that I was never in the bottom tier so if they want to make it standing only and the ticket holders are happy with that then fine by me.

  • Mark Scott

    I think the players were clearly starting to run short of legs after a hard road trip, three of the top 6 teams in a week will tax anyone. They probably eased off a little bit, thinking this would be an easier game…or just ran out of steam. Either way, we just weren’t up for it and got the result we deserved. No use crying though, give them a rest, dust ourselves off and hit the next game harder!
    There is clearly more at stake here than just 3 points and perhaps the players are starting to feel the pressure and especially when at home in front of a baying crowd who have a certain air of expectation. Not sure I agree with the negative tactics excuse, yes at home perhaps we could afford to be a little more adventurous, not giving away impetus, but the next game will be vital and tell us the real mental strength of this squad as opposed to what we’ve seen when there has been very little expectation or weight on their shoulders to turn things around…

  • SH.ER

    The tactics , the players mentality is what’s causing this
    Benitez seems to put TOO MUCH focus on how other teams play and how to cope with their style and he forget that his team is the one that should be bombarding the others when coming to our home , this is the most frustrating thing

    As for the mentality of giving the other team all the time and space at SJP
    come on guys !!?!?!? we should be better !!!!
    In Germany they cheer and enjoy pressing , we should be squashing every team comes to our place to their half and make them dream of entering OUR half of the pitch not happily give them the ball and wait for them to score like what happened against Fulham …

  • wowski13

    Diame should be playing alongside Shelvey in CM. He’s far better than Colback in that role. It would allow us to play a more attacking option in behind Gayle.