Concern At Newcastle – Nowhere Near Good Enough

The conventional wisdom is you can never tell how the season will start from the results and the way the team plays in pre-season.

And last night at Fulham the Newcastle team didn’t really turn up for the game until the second half – and even then we played nowhere near our capability.

The result was that we suffered a shocking 1-0 loss to Fulham, who finished 5th bottom last season.

We had thought these types of displays and results from the last two years were a thing of the past – but apparently not  – as we now have to wait a very long 8 days to make up for this very poor start to the season.

matt smith scores

Matt Smith heads home unchallenged

Last time in the second division we lost only four games of the 46 played, so it could be we will not do as well as we had thought this time around in the Championship.

This is what Rafa Benitez told Sky Sports after the game:

“We have to realise it will be a tough competition – we have to be much better,” 

“We didn’t play at the level we expected. We gave the ball away too easily and we conceded from a corner. After that we had some chances but we didn’t manage the game today.”

“From the bench the two incidents seemed like they were both penalties, especially the first one,”

“But it was not given, but you can be disappointed but carry on.”

“Maybe at the start of the season you’d expect more attention but we didn’t play at the level we have to play at, so we can’t complain about these things.”

There were some poor displays from the likes of new captain Jamaal Lascelles, who was at fault for the goal.

And how come we didn’t have a player on the far post to defend the corner from which Matt Smith headed home completely unchallenged after 45 minutes?

We did have two good appeals for a penalty turned down, but that’s what last night came down to – what didn’t happen and it was the referee.


And Fulham also had a couple of appeals for a penalty too – so it almost evened itself out.

Rafa will need to make some changes to the side when we take on Huddersfield Town at home next Saturday, with Paul Dummett offering nothing going forward while Ayoze Perez and Dwight Gayle were both disappointing and hardly showed up during the game.

It simply wasn’t good enough.

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24 comments so far

  • JDdubai

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:01 AM

    Comment #1

    Think Rafa made a few mistakes yesterday with his selection to be honest.

    Ritchie should stay RW, cutting in with Janmaat overlapping.
    Anita is a CM or FB, nothing more.
    Colback AND Hayden isnt necessary, Hayden can do the holding, we need Shelvey or Diame or someone who can impact the final third next to him.
    Aarons needs to get his chance to start, give him 3 or 4 games as a starter and see what he can do – if he can last that many games….
    Mbemba with Lascelles from now on also.

    Think Perez will struggle, cant play as a lone CF, cant play wide so really the 10 position is his only option but yesterday his touch was poor as well as his decision making. Needs to really step up or he will lose his place to Diame. Still not convinced he has what it takes to succeed, maybe with a big CF next to him he can handle it but not behind another small CF.

    Next game Id go with:


    Really missing Mitro to be the focus and also to have someone on the end of Ritchie’s crosses – no point having a good crosser with no-one there to head it. Also questions where Gayle will play, now the no9 so youd think he would be a starter but may have to move wide left?

  • JamesToon

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:07 AM

    Comment #2

    Fulham had everything we didn’t have last night. They had full backs who were both capable of getting forward and back, with a fair amount of pace, we only have that with Janmaat, they had a physically strong central midfield, who can also distribute the ball well with McDonald, Cairney and Tunnicliffe. Hayden has these attributes but Colback doesn’t, and Perez ahead of them not strong enough or pacey enough, as opposed to Aluko. They had pace on the wings with Ayite and a strong target man up front.

    We now have a physically strong midfield if we keep Tiote, along with Hayden and Diame. I personally would play Shelvey as a number 10, so he can provide the creativity in attack. With Diame and Hayden behind. We need more pace on the wing so need to look at Moses. But more creativity in midfield, either Knockaert or that Cairney who looked decent. A decent left back is needed in either Charlie Taylor or Rico Henry. While a striker who can work the channels, either physically strong or pacey. Need to start working the ball better through the midfield, the game plan sort of worked in the first half, but the final ball wasn’t good enough and we didn’t create enough chances

  • Slank

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:08 AM

    Comment #3

    Very disappointing but if you believe in ‘horses for courses’ then a very predictable result.

    Almost all blame must be shouldered at Benitez.

    The tactics and playing style was slow and ponderous. This allowed their defence that had never played together before, to get tight on our three quick and tricky forwards thereby reducing their effectiveness. Our three forwards rely on quick balls and movement.

    Lessons have not been learnt from preseason about defending at corners. Why was there no man on the post? Basic error by the manager.

    Of the players:
    Sels: Not sure, jury out. Too early to judge.

    Janmaat: Got forward and supported the attack well and defended better.

    Dummitt: Good in defence but very limited in going forward.

    Hanley: Not sure, jury out. Not as mobile as Mbemba.

    Lascelles: Commanding but lapse of concentration for the goal marred his performance.

    Colback: Not his day. Too ambitious and trying too hard as possibly Diame on his mind.

    Hayden: Very athletic, neat and tidy with good feet and can distribute the ball well.

    Anita: Poor in first half. Played in wrong position. Much better in midfield in second half.

    Perez: Has played better. Midfield didn’t provide enough opportunities.

    Ritchie: Very promising. Should have played on right wing from the start

    Gayle: Anonymous. Midfield didn’t provide enough opportunities.

    Shelvey: Surprisingly good. Was always looking forward. Distribution was accurate.

    Aarons: Not too sure. Perhaps too light weight.

    Armstrong: Energetic and always looking to score.

    Against Huddersfield it will be so different. This game against Fulham was a wake-up call and a testing ground from what Benitez has learnt (or not) in preseason and on the training ground.

    I believe the big difference will be the inclusion of Diame in midfield. I think Hayden will partner him but not too sure who else.
    The question marks are whether Clark will replace Dummitt. Whether Sissoko plays instead of Aarons. Whether Mbemba replaces Hanley.

  • Ron Knee

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:08 AM

    Comment #4


    No place for Anita or Colback in your lineup? Good!

  • Slank

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    Comment #5

    JDdubai @ 1

    I wrote my bit before I saw your posting but it concurs with your assessment.

  • Vask

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:13 AM

    Comment #6

    To be honest, as a first game of the season our performance wasn’t owa bad. The blatant hand ball in the first half was the crucial point. It’s easy to assume that in the face of such an unfair and one sided decision that the psychological momentum shifted.
    Of course it is easy to deal in what ifs but we get that shout and put the ball away we would have been given the confidence that the hype would be justified. We continued playing for the full 96mins and had two other poignant decisions against us.

    Let’s just hope that the bar for quality of refereeing hasn’t just been set.

    Let St james’ wall of sonic perfection blow Huddersfield out of the water.

  • JamesToon

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:14 AM

    Comment #7

    lrets face it we could play well and beat huddersfield next week and everything will be rosy

  • JamesToon

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:15 AM

    Comment #8


  • jimmysmith

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:15 AM

    Comment #9

    Just saw the match on replay. Colback and Hanley will struggle to hold their places, as will Dummett and one of the centre backs, along with Perez or Gayle. It wasn’t a terrible performance at all but Benitez does have plenty of good and probably better options. Any or all of Sissoko, Shelvey, Diame, Gamez, Aarons and Mbemba could easily be drafted in to start, and possibly Tiote.

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:15 AM

    Comment #10


    Same old Same old
    Shite, Shite, Shite
    against a team that has lost their best players
    huffed and puffed but could still be playing until next week wouldn’t of scored
    Lack of movement off the ball
    Slow ponderous no interplay passing froward mind you we are GOOD at going sideways and backwards
    lump it long to dwarfs – Armstrong, Gayle, Aarons up front second half when will they learn – first half Perez and Gayle
    cannot take free kicks
    cannot defend free kicks and corners
    beaten by a better team – wanted it more – better movement off the ball – lucky to get away with a 1-0

    might be a blessing in disguise because if we play like that we will be nearer the bottom than the top.

    Gonna be a long long season and sadly if we do not change you can kiss promotion out the window

    Goal- where was the marking, where was the players on the post for the corner.

    More annoyed, angry, disappointed than many a game last season

    Sels 5 – doesn’t give me confidence
    Daryl Janmaat 8 had a decent game – wanted it unlike some of the others
    Grant Hanley 4 slow and ponderous – got away with two mishits/clearences
    Jamaal Lascelles 3 fault for goal passing heading poor
    Paul Dummett; 4 slow dived in to much – could of easily bee sent off
    Isaac Hayden,4 didn’t see much of him – looked lightweight
    Jack Colback; 3 piss poor good at fouling giving away needless free kicks
    Vurnon Anita, 4 poor cannot say much else
    Matt Ritchie; 8 Man of the match for the TOON least he like Janmaat tried to get things going
    Dwight Gayle 3 did nowt huffed and puffed
    Perez 5 – decent movement but took th wrong option to many times

    Armstrong 3 nah not for me
    Aarons 4 nowt to say except missed/scuffed shot
    Shelley 3 looks like he does not want to be there

    We have too many short arses in the team to compete in the championship and pumping long balls to them is not going to work

    Fulham wanted it more and we have got to get used to that the opposition are going to treat us like a cup final up there game ALL WANT TO BEAT THE ‘BIG BOYS’

  • Bobbybee

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:16 AM

    Comment #11

    JD, agree with a lot of what you say mate. I’m putting this one down as just one of those days and moving on. It was, to be fair, a shocker.
    We need to learn to play without a big target man though, because I doubt this will be the only four games we’ll be without Mitro.
    The midfield needs more creativity. Lumping the ball to small strikers isn’t an option. We need a midfield that can play our nippy forwards in with good passing. That was clearly lacking last night. We’ve got plenty pace up front, but we need to learn how to utilise it. Balls into the channels will solve it.
    We need to be prepared to shoot from distance as well. These things will come as the season progresses imo. Certainly too early to panic!

  • JamesToon

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:17 AM

    Comment #12

    my lineup next week:
    Janmaat, Mbemba, Lascelles, Gamez
    Diame, Hayden
    Ritchie, Shelvey, Aarons

    Darlow, Hanley, Sterry, Tiote, Colback, Armstrong, Perez

  • JamesToon

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:19 AM

    Comment #13

    That team imo has much more balance, 2 full backs who can get up and down the pitch, janmaat and ritchie could form a dangerous partnership. Hayden and Diame provide a physically strong midfield with ball winning capabilities and forward thinking passing and drive from deep. Aarons provides pace and width where Gamez may cut in on his right. Shelvey provides creativity and through balls from advanced midfield to Gayle who can run on to them and score.

  • The overrated Frenchman

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:21 AM

    Comment #14

    I wasn’t as impressed with Hayden as most, it seems. I suppose I was looking at him as being primarily the defensive midfielder, breaking up attacks, which he didn’t really do it seemed to me. Carney especially seemed to have all the time and space he wanted.

  • JamesToon

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:24 AM

    Comment #15

    In the first half, we were good when we were out of possession, we pressed well, and hayden and colback won most of the midfield battle, it was when we were in possession was the problem and also defending the corner.

    When the game opened up it played into fulham’s hands with their pace.

    Still need these before the end of the window:
    Charlie Taylor/Rico Henry
    Anthony Knockaert/Tom Cairney
    Victor Moses/Ryan Fraser
    Diafra Sakho/Forrestieri

    and bobbybee
    i agree we need to learn how to shift the ball quicker and work the channels more, its not like perez and gayle cant work they just need the right service and played into the right areas

  • jimmysmith

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:25 AM

    Comment #16

    I thought Hayden was good, but not good enough for a side who need to win, but that could be said of six or seven of them. He was better than Colback though, who did have a poor game.

  • Shearer Legend

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:31 AM

    Comment #17

    Number of shots on target: 2
    Number of corners: 2

    A very concerning display with worrying statistics to enforce my troubles. All the pre-season hype and optimism was dissolved in that first 45 minute lacklustre display.

    People moaning about not receiving a clear cut penalty. However the hard cold truth is we didn’t deserve to win

  • Fostino

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:33 AM

    Comment #18

    This game showed we need more brains in attack. A winger badly needed. Can’t rely on janmaat and rithchie all the time.

    Mbemba Diame jesus and shelvey must start next game for hanley hayden dummett and colback. Hanley too slow. Hayden didnt break up enough ball. Dummett was easily skinned on numerous occasions and colback never really offers much. Perez on wing. Anita and Diame in cm with shelvey. Gayle needs to pull his socks up. Hll I’d throw sissoko in with Diame in midfield. ..2 powerhouses.

    Janmaat lascalles mbemba Dummett
    Rithchie Diame sissoko shelvey perez

  • Fostino

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:34 AM

    Comment #19

    Meant to say

    Janmaat lascalles mbemba jesus
    Rithchie Diame sissoko shelvey perez

  • Munster Mag

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:41 AM

    Comment #20

    At least now we can start to evaluate rafas transfer work and how he set his team up. And i’d be concerned. Of course early days but:
    – Can we find a mobile target man because i dont think rafa fancies mitro
    -We seem a very small team. That would worry me. Rafa says he wants an experienced striker. He had better be a big un
    -Mentally that team does not look strong. Thats a worry. Will aarons, perez, janmaat dig us out of holes? Who will provide calm leadership?
    – I have had concerns re who plays the 1 in a 4231 all summer. Surely that has to me mitro. But if rafa doesnt rate him or he gets injured…
    – Janmaat…hard to believe he was linked with juve…highly overrated, lacks pace, takes too much time on the ball.
    -Rafa set us up defensively and we play it sideways and backwards a lot.rafa was getting players to do this even when there was a lack of pressure. That philosophy wud worry me.
    – Was the goal all lascelles fault or did it look like a systems error? Given zonal marking and lack of cover on the post it looks like a systems error.

    Early days and we will hammer some teams at home but that team and the way the manager set it up has flaws. How many more players do we need?

  • Wandering Geordie

    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:58 AM

    Comment #21

    Two centre backs not on same wavelength yet hence goal.
    Gayle looks under pressure already donning the number 9 shirt.
    Anita running around like headless chicken giving away ball cheaply.
    two small forwards ain’t gonna work.
    same old story-Not good enough.
    Its going to be a hard slog.

  • OneAlanShearer

    Aug 6, 2016 at 9:00 AM

    Comment #22

    my lineup next week:
    Janmaat, Mbemba, Lascelles, Gamez
    Diame, shelvey
    Ritchie, perez, Aarons

    Darlow, Hanley, dummett, Tiote, Colback, Armstrong, hayden, anita

  • Visten

    Aug 6, 2016 at 9:06 AM

    Comment #23

    Horrible lineup from Rafa which is the most worrying, he has been taking tips from Roy Hodgson on how not to set up a team. Anita in an advanced Mid role…..really wtf???? Colback????? oh dear oh dear. Aarons and Shelvey should have started. Do we really need a holding Mid in the Championship. Rafa you have me worried.

  • nufc 11

    Aug 6, 2016 at 10:49 AM

    Comment #24

    Few attacking players needed and a system to suit them


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