As someone who went to almost every away game last season, it would be nice to believe that there was, but there really wasn’t. In fact, because we were treated to such a bad performance in the Championship it actually made it worse.
There was a certain amount of optimism and hope surrounding the first game of the season – and that will continue for sure, despite defeat, it’s only 1 game out of 46, and Fulham are no push overs. However, Friday should prove to all of us that we are perhaps not as good as we think we are – and although we have a fantastic manager, there is still a HUGE amount of improvement to be out on the pitch – with the likes of Dummett, Janmaat, Colback, Anita and Perez failing to turn up, much like they did last season.
The first half was a pretty drab affair, with Fulham looking like the much better team going forward. Although we should have had a penalty – aside from that, we created absolutely nothing in the first half with both Perez and Gayle ineffective, and only Ritchie looking to create anything from midfield. Another winger is much needed, and let’s hope Diame can be that central midfielder who won’t be afraid to go beyond Perez/Gayle.
Throughout the game, we did have several set-pieces in good positions, however all of them were below par. I do not understand why Ayoze Perez takes free-kicks or corners. I have never seen him score a free-kick, I have never even seen him get a shot on target from a free-kick.
Perhaps Ritchie is a good piece set-piece taker, but if he is not, then that would mean that we have ZERO set-piece takers in our team – something which is likely to be very important when you are battling in close games in the Championship.
The goal came from a set-piece, a free header – which is particularly disappointing given the fact you’d expect both Hanley and Lascelles to be able to compete in the air – I’m sure Lascelles will be the first to admit that he was totally at fault for the goal, but it really was not good enough, and Fulham deserved it.
There were a few boos at half time, which was probably harsh, but most of the supporters were behind the team for the whole game, and even after, all were applauded off.
In the second half, we did threaten more but still only managed to create one clear chance – which again is really not good enough. I know it’s only been one game but I do worry if we are going to rely on Dwight Gayle this season – a player who has struggled to break into the Crystal Palace team in the past few years.
(See Jonathan’s match rating for each Newcastle player here).
Even when you disagree with him – you just cant criticise any decision Rafa Benitez makes. However, I would say that the team on Friday was too defensive. In my opinion, based on the signings we have made so far (a lot of them Championship players), and the performance of the team on Friday, I fear that Rafa might be showing the Championship a little too much respect.
7000 fans made the trip to Fulhan… an amazing number of supporters given the fact that people are on holiday, it’s a Friday night, in London and the game is on TV. Although, the fans can’t always be relied on to get behind the team – sometimes the players have to be ones to get the fans going. I do think that many of our players, or in fact, the club in general, continue to take the fans for granted.
An early setback but there are still 45 more games to go.
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Fulham 1 Newcastle 0
Possession was Fulham 45% Newcastle 55%
Total shots were Fulham 5 Newcastle 8
Shots on target were Fulham 3 Newcastle 2
Corners were Fulham 2 Newcastle 2
Team: Sels, Janmaat, Lascelles, Hanley, Dummett, Colback (Aarons 61), Anita, Hayden (Shelvey 77), Ritchie, Perez, (Armstrong 70) Gayle
Unused Subs: Darlow, Gamez, Mbemba, Sterry
Ref: Simon Hooper
(For instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction to the Fulham defeat go HERE)
(For the interactive Newcastle player ratings and to add your own ratings, go HERE)