That was a tough watch for Newcastle fans and it must have been the same for Rafa Benitez.

I didn’t get back from Southampton until early this morning and so only now am I catching up with the aftermath/fall out from the game.

Even with a extra hour in bed it hasn’t helped much but when you are a Newcastle away fan, there aren’t many games where it isn’t a canny journey, so nothing new there – even though Southampton is one of the longer ones.

Funnily enough, despite the distance and the rubbish record (now one win in the last 25 league visits), Southampton is one of my favourite trips.

I like the place and maybe it has something to do with all that extra drinking time on the train…

I have just read a report (see below) where Rafa Benitez was asked after the game whether it was a point won and an acceptable result.

For me, there is no question that an away point is acceptable on pretty much any occasion, even with it being against a quite hopeless Southampton side.

They had only one home league match in 11 months and I did really think we’d win, mad I know.

Southampton had also not scored in over six and a half hours of Premier League football, so my reasoning was (I even put money on it) that we stood every chance of keeping a clean sheet, just like at Palace and Cardiff, but would find a goal from somewhere.

I was proved right up to a point, the home side clueless going forward and it is now more than eight hours of football since they have scored a PL goal.

However, whilst a clean sheet is always a positive and I credit the defence with holding out for that, this was not an acceptable performance.

It might be an acceptable result but my god, this was the absolute pits.

I have seen plenty of bad Newcastle teams but watching that yesterday was shocking. Not the worst ever but I don’t think I have ever seen a match where Newcastle have looked less like scoring a goal. Forget any Rafa match against Manchester City, they were actually far more entertaining than this embarrassment.

This Newcastle team had not a single clue as to how they were going to score a goal.

Players constantly losing possession or passing the ball around aimlessly in their own half. Invariably the ball ending up with Martin Dubravka who booted it back to Southampton or straight out of play.

I see the stats (see below) show six Newcastle shot compared to Southampton’s 22 but that is laughable, not the total for the Saints but NUFC’s half dozen. Rafa’s team literally didn’t have one shot worthy of the name, the stats show none on target but quite literally the closest we came to a proper shot was Yedlin blasting it from over 30 yards out and it ending up in the back of the stand.

If you only go by the basic stats then a goalless draw sounds alright but having watched the whole match, anybody who did so must think we already have one foot in the Championship.

The table shows there aren’t many points separating a handful of clubs at the bottom but I can’t believe any other team comes close to being as limited as Newcastle going forward.

Last weekend, Brighton invited Newcastle to attack for the whole 90 minutes and still we only had a couple of decent chances, which came about by their mistakes if I remember rightly.

Against Southampton we just had nothing to offer at all. To add to our troubles, we only have Lejuene missing now.

So yesterday that was our best attacking formation with the exception of Rondon who came on for the final 25 minutes and still hasn’t touched the ball by now.

Rafa has said he isn’t fit but even if he was/is, I don’t see how he is single-handedly going to transform things.

Muto ran about and lost the ball, Perez was woeful as usual, Kenedy turning backwards and sideways then resorted to blindly flicking the ball which simply set Southampton on the attack, Diame continued his terrible form and like Kenedy tried aimless flicks, Ritchie was at his worst with his weaknesses of having no pace and no trick to beat an opponent all too obvious, whilst Shelvey was totally anonymous – this only a day or two after a big interview where he was insisting he should have been at the World Cup and felt he was as good as anybody else who is around at the minute.

I’m not sure what I want to believe, was yesterday simply the players showing how limited they are as an attacking unit, or am I needing to accept that Rafa’s tactics are stifling the team and they could be much better than this if set free?

Whilst undoubtedly Rafa could be doing something more to encourage attacking play, the grim reality is that as an attacking threat, we are pretty much seeing what we have got and what they’re capable of. The frightening thing is that Rondon excepted, the alternatives are far worse – Ki, Atsu, Murphy, Joselu and the rest are terrible.

The reality is that the three points Newcastle have won this season, have come against poor teams via goalless draws.

I can’t remember more than a few real chances for Newcastle in the Southampton, Cardiff and Palace games combined, whilst in all three the opposition had good chances to deny NUFC any points whatsoever.

A couple of quality signings could have helped carry the rest of the front six but instead you have only Jonjo Shelvey as any kind of quality, with his quality being to pass and pick out teammates, which isn’t a great use when those teammates have such limited movement and little ability.

It won’t stop me travelling away, the trip is always the best part anyway, but I am now accepting that we are doomed unless something dramatic happens in January. I will be at Burnley next month and so on – but it certainly won’t be with ‘hope in our hearts’ looking at this team.

No wonder Mark Hughes looked so gutted yesterday, having failed to beat this Newcastle side he must be really kicking himself.

Rafa Benitez:

“We have to consider where we are, where they (Southampton) are, they need to win and they were pushing, we were trying to defend.

“We couldn’t produce the counter-attacks that we wanted and we have to take the positives today.

“Given we are in a difficult position, it was a positive.

“In terms of workrate and team spirit we can’t complain about that, we have to improve a little bit on the ball.

“You could see both teams were a little bit anxious during the game.

“When teams are pushing you have to look to create a counter attack, we couldn’t always, but it was because we are in a difficult position.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Southampton 0 Newcastle 0 

Possession was Southampton 50% Newcastle 50%

Total shots were  Southampton 22 Newcastle 6

Shots on target were Southampton 4 Newcastle 0

Corners were  Southampton 7 Newcastle 2

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame (Ki 76), Shelvey, Kenedy, Perez (Rondon 69), Muto (Atsu 80)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Schar, Joselu, Manquillo

Crowd: 30,736 (NUFC 2,450)

(Sorry but Rafa talking nonsense after this shocker of a match – Read HERE)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Southampton match HERE)

(Match ratings for all Toon players HERE)

To feature like Sam Hepworth submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here



  • Paul Patterson

    I’d take a shoddy performance against Watford if we get three points . .

  • Lipsyla

    Spot on in respect of everything to do with the matchdays now. The beer & travel are all we have to look forward to. The time has come to enjoy the day, have a good time with your mates, spend the extra 30 quid on beer and give what is allegedly a football match a miss.

  • Hughie_Gallacher

    So, what would you like Rafa to do?

    • Lipsyla

      Not waste the pennies he is the thrown on the likes of Murphy, Manquillo, Joselu, Lazaar, Schar & others that have been & gone? His hands have been tied, but he is not completely blameless.

      • MadMag83

        You’ve listed 5 players there, 4 of which are current squad members. Rafa is trying to flesh out a squad with those pennies, would you rather he blew it on one player? What if that player gets injured? It’s amazing how some fans have forgotten the real problem here, Mike Ashley.

      • Wezza

        If you look at the heinous regimes history, players have been brought in without the managers say so and I’m sure this is the case for Lazaar, ‘100k a week wages’

  • Kenny

    Please read this carefully,
    the strikers are not worth a f##king nut, they would struggle in the Championship.
    if you`re looking for attacking football with goals then you`re watching the wrong team

    • Lipsyla

      A decent percentage of Rafa’s signings have not been “worth a f##king nut”. Yes, he’s scratching around in the bargain bin, but he’s pulled out some proper duds..

      • MadMag83

        Would that be because he’s shopping in the bargain bin? Kind of contradictory!

        • Lipsyla

          Not really.. There is some value in the bargain bin. Of the English born players, 2 of the top 3 Premier League scorers (Murray & Wilson) cost less than Joselu.. The other (Kane) obviously came through his clubs system.. Now wouldn’t that be revolutionary for NUFC!

          • MadMag83

            Dubravka and Fernandez both found in the bargain bin mate. However, logic dictates that more often than not you get what you pay for and end up with a Joselu, Ki, etc. If it was that easy, would every club not be doing it?

            This club did bring a young English striker through its ranks once, Andy Carroll his name was. Fatso couldn’t wait to wait to flog him for £31m and sack the manager who gave him his chance.

            However you look at it, it comes back to Ashley.

          • 1957

            It would be revolutionary for Benitez, he has a woeful record for bringing young players through… some Liverpool supporters took issue with his liking for journeyman squad fillers, normally from France and Spain, over giving players in their youth system an extended run. He also filled the youth team with young foreign players, some of who never played a game.

    • 1957

      Rondon was his main striking target over the summer… direct quotes last week in the Chronicle. Let’s hope he is fit enough at some stage to prove he was worth pursuing, I’m beginning to suspect he might just be as unreliable as Slim was last year.

  • Peaky

    Meanwhile over at the Ronnie….they have listed 15 players from Europe that may be available free next summer……I despair,I really really do…….

    • Kneebotherm8

      At least they know what the budget is gonna be…….😂😂

    • Wezza

      Haha. The chronicle doing Charnleys job for him shopping for freebies. This club is a cesspit of corruption and lies.
      #AshleyOut
      #BoycottWolves
      #BoycottKBAPropaganda

  • Rev

    put the same amount of effort into winning matches as he seems to put into making sure we dont concede (which normally doesnt work). It is not coincidence that we dont attack and therefore we dont score goals. Rafa’s tactics worked last season because we got Dubravka and Kennedy when we were in the clart. They clearly aren’t working this season and maybe this year we won’t get a new Kennedy etc. Face the facts, it is rubbish to watch, fans love him, but not his tactics. So when Rafa goes you go too and support whoever? Bollocks! NUFC will go on long after Rafa goes, just as they did when Keegan, Fat Sam, Carver etc. left. Get over Rafa, he is taking this club nowhere.

    • MadMag83

      Plenty of shots against Brighton and no goals… Yes playing attacking football will solve our problems….

      • magpie0722

        Maybe if he hadn’t kicked out our 3 strikers might have made a difference.

    • magpie0722

      Rev, Your wrong there, he’s taking us to the Championship.

  • MadMag83

    I’m not sure what people are expecting. Very difficult to play attacking, free flowing football if your players can’t string three passes together. 20+ chances against Brighton last week and no goals would suggest that playing an attacking game isn’t going to change our fortunes.

    It would seem there are those amongst us that would rather Benitez went on the offensive and got tanked 4 nil every week, but whey man, we’re playing like Keegan!

  • Kneebotherm8

    Rafa systems rely on the counter attack………just a shame we haven’t got the personnel to carry it out….

    • Mxpx

      Well it’s very hard to counter attack when everyone is behind the ball

      • MadMag83

        Or when they aren’t good enough to do anything with it.

        • Kneebotherm8

          That’s the problem……

  • Steven05

    Ashley Out

  • Andy Mac

    Guaranteed a poor performance in terms of attacking intent, creativity and goals. However if you consider these players/backroom staff must be on their knees in terms of confidence then a 0-0 is perfectly acceptable.

    None of us know how difficult it must be working for a complete R’s, knowing how he undermines the business, the manager and the players. Yet the players are supposed to go out on the pitch and forget that the fat grinning oaf in the stands is making your life a misery while making more money for his greedy grubby little company.

    Added to which the whole world is telling you you’re shl.t and not good enough to compete in this league.

    So spare a thought for those beleaguered guys and trust that the Rafmeister can pull yet another rabbit out of the hat despite the fact that a certain fat person has stolen all the rabbits.

  • BigHairyDog

    I keep hearing these clowns having a pop at Rafa, calling for him to be sacked. As soon as you put them on the spot they either disappear or claim Brendan Rodgers would love to come to SJP.

    We were incredibly lucky to get a manager of Rafa’s experience and knowledge, just putting him up against the previous 5 managers and you can see the calibre that Ashley employs. Of Kinnear, Hughton, Pardew, Carver, McClaren and only Hughton, forced on Ashley through circumstances, have left with his reputation intact.

    • theoriginalbomberman

      Rodgers isn’t going to leave a side playing in Europe and guaranteed domestic trophies.
      Secondly Pardew never had any reputation with the fans despite leading us to europa league qualification and jumped at the chance to go to Palace where he then took them to a league cup final. I’m certain we were mid table when he left too. Fair enough he was an Ashley lackey and a yes man who was clearly out of his depth but he was hardly as bad as Carver or Mclaren.

  • Spoon_Army

    Given where we are, our record away at Southampton and all the other [email protected], a point is a canny result.

  • Wezza

    We set up for a draw and got it but only because Southamptons finishing was poor and Dubravka was excellent. One of the worst performances from us!

    • Southampton’s midfield is just so much better in moving the ball forward. If they had Muto and Kenedy would probably have won by at least 2 goals.