Newcastle 1 Fulham 3  – Saturday 11 March 3pm

Darlow 5 – I like him but questions may be asked after another hesitant display. Elliott may deserve a recall for the run in…

Dummett 4 – Having received deserved praise in recent weeks, today was a return to the Paul Dummett of last season. Hopefully he will put that mistake behind him and bounce back quickly.

Clark 5 – An uncharacteristic poor performance… but considering he’s my player of the season so far, he’s earned the right to have a bad game.

Lascelles 3 – Certainly not my cup of tea at the moment. Another hesitant performance. I’ve said this before but when the going gets tough I don’t really see him get going.

Anita 2 – To put it bluntly, he had the absolutely mickey taken out of him all day, by a young (and albeit brilliant) 16 year old.

Colback 3 – Does Rafa really like him? Or is it just a case of there is literally nobody in the squad to take his place at the moment. Made to look like a boy up against Tom Cairney.

Shelvey 4 – A bad day at the office, in fact it was probably one of Shelvey’s worst displays in an NUFC shirt.

Ritchie 4 – Another one who has been really disappointing lately, despite our good results. Away from home he is doing a good job (much like Dummett, Gouffran and Colback do) but at home we need more from him, more creativity, better delivery, can he beat a man?

Diame 2 – We have learnt so far that you never know which Diame is going to turn up. Unfortunately, more often than not it’s the bad one.

Atsu 4 – Rarely produces the goods when he starts the game. Definitely more effective when brought on as a sub against tired legs. Must improve his final ball if he is to earn a permanent contract.

Gayle 6 – Huffed and puffed but to no avail. Received little support from Diame and was isolated far too often.

Murphy 7 – Continues to put Rafa in a difficult position with his goals and contribution.

Gamez 6 – Not much to talk about but will fancy his chances of starting the next game following Anita’s terrible performance.

Gouffran – N/A (Not on long enough)

Another game that highlights promotion is NOT guaranteed. I’m sick and tired of listening to North East journos and writers talk as if we are already promoted. We are nowhere near being already promoted.

There was even a section of sky sports this week that suggested Newcastle were guaranteed to finish in the top two and that it was merely a question of whether we will win the title! Absolute Bonkers!

Yes we are favourites. However, Huddersfield are only six points behind with a game in hand. Surely fans and pundits have learnt that anyone can beat anyone in the Championship.

I think Rafa is the only one who knows we aren’t promoted yet and isn’t getting too excited because it’s going to be a right old slog to the last game or two.

I have full confidence in Rafa Benitez but I don’t have the same amount of confidence in the ability of some of our players.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Fulham 3


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

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the defeat go HERE.

The Fulham boss quizzed on whether Newcastle will still get promotion – Read HERE.

  • toonterrier

    Wasn’t there but if a team cant perform in front of fifty thousand supporters at home there’s something seriously wrong. Too much negativity which is down to Rafa as well as the players and changes have to be made. Don’t know what they do on the training ground but surely not defensive tactics with the hope of grabbing a goal or maybe relying on the opposition messing up which had happened lots of times this season.. Get a grip Rafa.

  • 1957

    For once I broadly agree with Jonathon’s ratings although he is being generous Vern and SloMo.

    As bad as the players were, Rafa’s standard defensive tactics today were totally wrong against a fluid, mobile team, the amount of time they were given as our players stood off them was embarrassing.

    Rating for Benitez today…0


    IMO We needed to press them, which 2 or 3 players did, unfortunately for the pressing game to work u have to press as a team. Just about agree with the ratings above which is a first for me.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Yedlin Mbemba Clark Dummy
    Matt Jonjo Hayden Atsu
    Gayle Murph

    Game 1st April v Wigan

    • Toon Wolf

      You know he won’t play two up top.

      • Taz

        And he will keep playing the useless [email protected] colback

        • 1957

          And Diame…

          • Whitehurst

            Ditto as above.

        • Whitehurst

          Pretty much sums it up!!

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        i know he wont

  • Salty

    We’re becoming a bit predictable at home and teams must be looking forward to playing up here now. Thought Fulham were very good. I’d take young sessegnon ahead of atsu any time but suspect he will move to one of the big boys. Cairney looks a prospect too. 3 points required at Brum next week or the panic will set in in the stands for the following home games

  • Whitehurst

    While I think Rafa is a great tactician….particularly when setting up playing away. You can’t adopt similar tactics at home….let the other team have more possesion, sit deep and expect to score on the break. That’s why we are getting picked off more often than not. Passing today was woeful and we kept hoofing it up the pitch expecting Gayle to latch on to them (Lascelles being the main culprit!!). All too one dimensional and predictable. Like many, I’ve been saying 442 is the way to go at SJP. Never thought 12 months ago, I’d be saying that I’d prefer to be playing away!! It’s just a shame that we’ve undone all the fine work from the previous couple of weeks. Still it wouldn’t be NUFC….if we didn’t do it the hard way and make us supporters sweat. Like last week, a week is a long time in football….so move on to the Brummies. HWTL

  • Taz

    It just makes you angry how some of the players get picked game after game. You know the ones I’m talking about…. tactical errors made today with a sheeeite team performance

    • Whitehurst

      Presume you’re (mostly) referring to the usual culprits who play at 4, 6, 8 & 15? Might use some of these numbers on the lottery next week…surely they have some use in life?

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        they do, playing for Gates Heed

        • Whickhamrobbie

          no they wouldnt .The Heed are going great this season and wembley is on the horizon in the play offs .
          The Gateshead players show a lot more heart than the Toon over hyped players.

  • Aussie Bill

    Time to put a couple of u23s on the bench like Tom Heardman and Curtis Good and perhaps start Elliot.

    • Whitehurst

      Didn’t Curtis Good have a shocker against Oxford? Elliot is a decent shout tho. Like Darlow….but Elliot is a lot more reliable. Formation & tactics at home are the problem tho!!

      • Aussie Bill

        As l understand it he was one of the few who played well, a couple of crucial intercept saves and a couple of shots on goal one hitting the upright. Not bad for his first senior game in nearly two years, just bad luck that the gun striker Mitrovic could not hit a winner as it made them all look bad.

  • Damon Horner

    Might be slow off the mark here but if we “give the ball away too much” and “rely too much on Shelvey for passing” among other negative criticisms of the players abilities then why are people then now asking us to reduce the away teams possession when playing at home? if the players are not very capable in possession of the ball then what good will it do to improve our own possession stats? it doesn’t make sense to me. If they don’t have a direct free flowing passing capability they are not going to suddenly develop one because it’s desirable.

    Thing is this is Rafa’s first full season, plenty out and plenty in, a good manager has a primary style but has the flexibility in the squad to get trained tactics 2 and 3 on the pitch depending on what game management or the opposition style dictates, with so much change in the playing staff it wouldn’t surprise me if he hasn’t got a successful 2nd or 3rd tactic. This is a transition season and is all about getting promoted, nothing else really. Time for evolution will be next season assuming all is well at boardroom level.

    • Leicester Mag

      Some interesting points I’d contend though that the single biggest reason there is no back up plan is that the Fat controller and his incapable minion, Chumply sat on the cash rather than invest. Will this ever change? 10 years and counting….

    • 1957

      If he has a successful 2nd or 3rd tactic he needs to use one of them in home games. Everyone would agree his first choice tactic is ideal for away games, but using this at home is putting automatic promotion at risk. While I agree Fulham look a good team we helped them by letting them play, only having 38% of possession at home is a joke.

      What is the real problem, did he buy players to fit in his primary system of play and he doesn’t think they can make a different system work, the couple of times he tried something different this season weren’t impressive, or in coaching terms is he simply a one trick pony.

      If any Liverpool fans are reading this I’d love to hear their views

      • Damon Horner

        Too many variables really about the direction really caused by a need to overhaul the squad. If he signed nearly a full team and signed both suitable and easily coach-able players for a variation of tactics and game plans he’d be up there with the best of them or entirely lucky.

        Gayle and Diame in particular look precise to the main game plan so my view is he had a preferred approach and bought to suit it, if anything I expected more in-season development within the team but it’s irrelevant really if we’re promoted.