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Newcastle 0 Fulham 0 – Rafa Benitez has to hold his hands up to this one

3 months ago
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It finished Newcastle 0 Fulham 0 and I’m still not sure what Rafa Benitez was trying to achieve today.

Unless it was a clean sheet…

Up against the worst team in the division who had picked up one point all season on the road.

A Fulham team who had conceded a huge 42 goals overall and a massive 24 away in nine matches.

Yet Rafa Benitez played five at the back with only Mitrovic up front for Fulham.

We aren’t normally very adventurous even at St James Park but at least we normally have Kenedy and Ritchie pushing forward on the wings.

Instead, Kenedy was sat on the bench and Ritchie playing as a fifth defender.

Poor Salomon Rondon had a thankless task, totally isolated and how Ayoze Perez stayed on the pitch is something I struggle to comprehend,he contributed absolutely nothing all game.

Some Newcastle fans think it is all or nothing but it is possible to really  rate Rafa Benitez but at the same time believe he gets things badly wrong in individual games.

To be honest, Newcastle were just as negative and poor to watch last weekend against an equally bad Huddersfield, the only  difference being that there was two pieces of quality that sprang from nowhere against a home side pushing for a win. Newcastle scoring the winner and having another wrongly disallowed.

Today, there was zero quality and not a single effort on target. Fulham have watches 42 goals go past them and yet their keeper didn’t have a shot to save.

Rafa Benitez is never keen to make subs until 65 minutes or longer and so yet again it proved today.

I always struggle to understand why and especially when for once we had some decent options on the bench.

Kenedy only got 18 minutes and then Yedlin six minutes, the only other sub…

People say that losing Muto to the Asian Cup is a blow but if he isn’t even given a chance in this kind of desperate match, he might as well be packing his bags now.

Some maybe think a point is better than nothing but of the 21 matches Newcastle had left, this was at the very top when it came to most likely to get three points.

Oh well, only Liverpool away up next…I really hope we don’t regret not having a go at Fulham today.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 0 Fulham 0

Goals…

Possession was Fulham 46% Newcastle 54%

Total shots were  Fulham 4 Newcastle 9

Shots on target were Fulham 2 Newcastle 0

Corners were  Fulham 0 Newcastle 6

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Manquillo (Yedlin 84), Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Ki, Diame, Atsu (Kenedy 72), Rondon, Perez

Unused Subs:

Woodman, Joselu, Muto, Hayden, Fernandez

Crowd: 51,237 was announced but looked around 49,000-50,000 in reality (Fulham around 500, large minibus)
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