Hanley was unable to prevent the ball going out for a corner, which was
swung in left footed by Tom Cairney in front of the Cottage and headed by
Matt Smith, left in yards of space. That flew beyond Matz Sels,
with no Newcastle player stationed on the back post.
Another goal from a dead ball situation, Just like the four we conceded in
Half time: Cottagers 1 Magpies 0
Full time: Cottagers 1 Magpies 0
Francisco Moreno (Assistant Manager), Rafa, Mikel Antia (Coach), Simon Smith
Rafa Benitez commented:
"I'm really disappointed because we
did not play at the level we expected. We did not win the ball too much in
the second ball and were not keeping the ball properly. We were not
concentrating. This game could be a wake-up call for everyone.
"The only positive is it is the
beginning of the season and we can wake up. At least everyone has to realise it
has to be like this for the rest of the season.
"We didn't play at the level we want to
play and have to play if you want to score goals and win games. You have to be
much better. We have to realise this is a tough competition and we have to be
About the penalty claims:
"The first one was clear and not given.
The second one depends on the referee."
Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic said:
"It's great for us, the perfect start. I took great pleasure from my team.
They played altogether.
"It's good news, my team played a serious game. If you follow this way we
can think about a better season.
"I thought my team worked very well in
pre-season. They showed what they had to do.
"We had many difficulties keeping a
clean sheet last season, it's great news for us.
"My team is very sharp. But this
Championship is so long with so many games.
"I said before we were ready for Newcastle but not for the season."
Goalscorer Matt Smith added:
"The lads were buzzing afterwards. We had a really productive pre-season,
we felt we were in a good place coming into the game.
“It was ultimately the test for everything
we’d worked on, and I think the lads passed with flying colours. We were set
up really well and stuck to our game plan, and had that self-belief which got us
over the line.
“I don’t think anyone backed us prior to
the game except ourselves really. Newcastle are the favourites for the title and
maybe we caught them at a good time in the sense that they haven’t had an
opportunity to suss out the division and get into their stride yet.
“They’re a very good team, make no bones
about it, but we have that self-belief, and the confidence in the camp was high
after pre-season because of the quality in the squad.
“So we felt very good going into the game
and we stuck to the game plan that was laid out, and it was just great to hear
the final whistle go and be on the end of a 1-0 win.”
United's six game unbeaten record came to an end,
this defeat our first since a 1-3
reverse at Southampton in April 2016. Our wait for an away victory in 2016 also
continues, with the last a 2-1 conquest of Spurs last December. Since then we've
failed to win in 13 attempts (11 Premier League, 1 FA Cup, 1
Championship). 11 of those were lost, two drawn.
Rafa Benitez gave competitive
debuts to five of his close-season acquisitions: Matz Sels, Grant Hanley,
Isaac Hayden, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle. Fellow new boy Jesus Gámez
remained on the bench while recent arrivals Ciaran Clark and Mohamed Diame
weren't included in the squad.
Only three of the starting XI in the season closer against Spurs kept their
place today; messrs Dummett, Janmaat and Colback. The eight
omissions were Darlow (substitute), Taylor (left), Mbemba (substitute), Tiote
(not selected), Wijnaldum (left), Sissoko (left), Townsend (left), Mitrovic
United debuted their blue & orange second kit in a competitive game, while
the captain's armband was sported by Jamaal Lascelles for the first time
(although he had led the side in pre-season).
Losing a sixth successive match at Craven Cottage makes this our
worst run of away games against Fulham, eclipsing the run of five defeats endured
between 1959/60 and 1967/68.
Toon away to Fulham - post-WW2:
2016/17: Lost 0-1
2013/14: Lost 0-1
2012/13: Lost 1-2 Ben Arfa
2011/12: Lost 2-5 Guthrie, Ben Arfa
2010/11: Lost 0-1
2008/09: Lost 1-2 Ameobi
2007/08: Won 1-0 Barton (pen)
2006/07: Lost 1-2 Martins
2005/06: Lost 0-1
2004/05: Won 3-1 Ambrose, Kluivert, Ameobi
2003/04: Won 3-2 Robert, Shearer 2*
2002/03: Lost 1-2 Shearer*
2001/02: Lost 1-3 Speed
1983/84: Drew 2-2 Beardsley, Keegan
1982/83: Drew 2-2 McDermott, Varadi
1981/82: Lost 0-2 (LC)
1979/80: Lost 0-1
1978/79: Won 3-1 Connolly, Withe, Shoulder
1967/68: Lost 0-2
1966/67: Lost 1-5 B.Robson
1965/66: Lost 0-2
1960/61: Lost 3-4 Allchurch, Hughes, Woods
1959/60: Lost 3-4 Eastham, Hale 2
1955/56: Won 5-4 (FA) Casey, Keeble 2, Milburn, Stokoe
1951/52: Drew 1-1 G.Robledo
1950/51: Drew 1-1 Walker
1949/50: Lost 1-2 Milburn
1947/48: Lost 0-3
1946/47: Won 3-0 Bentley, Wayman
* at Loftus Road (all others at Craven Cottage)
Total record against Fulham:
Reality bites: post-relegation season openers:
2016/17: Fulham (a) lost 0-1
2009/10: West Bromwich Albion (a) drew 1-1
1989/90: Leeds United (h) won 5-2
1978/79: Millwall (a) lost 1-2
1961/62: Leyton Orient (h) drew 0-0
1934/35: Nottingham Forest (a) lost 1-5
Slow starters? - last ten opening day away results:
2016/17: Fulham (a) lost 0-1
2013/14: Manchester City (a) lost 0-4
2010/11: Manchester United (a) lost 0-3
2009/10: West Bromwich Albion (a) drew 1-1
2008/09: Manchester United (a) drew 1-1
2007/08: Bolton Wanderers (a) won 3-1
2005/06: Arsenal (a) lost 0-2
2004/05: smoggies (a) drew 2-2
2003/04: Leeds United (a) drew 2-2
2001/02: Chelsea (a) drew 1-1
most match goers heading along the Thames Path to Craven Cottage is a memorial
to the International Brigade, complete with the motto "No Pasaran!"
("They Shall Not Pass").
Sadly for the 7,000 exuberant Newcastle fans present,
that phrase encapsulated the shortcomings of Rafa's new-look side, who made
a remarkably poor fist of their first Championship outing since May 2010 - and
added not shooting to that vow of passing abstinence.
The misplaced hand of Ryan Tunnicliffe looked to have given United a welcome
break in a barren first half, only for referee Simon Hooper to ignore the
blatant offence and not award a penalty.
A second valid handball shout in front of the away end was also refused in the
closing stages of the game, but those non-decisions book-ended a confusing and
concerning away performance that no amount of bad officiating can excuse.
The presence of former boss Steve McClaren on punditry duty wasn't the only
unwelcome memory of our previous inadequacies, conceding on the cusp of
half time another tradition sadly revived.
That's now six games in a row we've lost at Craven Cottage - and the solitary success of 2007
(with Joey Barton's added time spot kick) in the middle of nine consecutive
losses was as poor any of the others. It's hardly a bear pit - exactly what is
it that we can't cope with here?
And by the time Adam Armstrong arrived to re-enact his 2014 debut here in
another fruitless pursuit of an equaliser, the only real difference between this
visit and that last one was our bonny new change kit and the fact we'd be avoiding
watching highlights on
Channel 5 rather than BBC1...
Since last season we've enjoyed/endured Euro 2016 and tonight brought further
echoes of that summer tournament. Some Newcastle fans made a mercifully
unsuccessful attempt at emulating that daft Icelandic chant - and some Newcastle
players following the Roy Hodgson backwards and sideways blueprint for success,
achieving precisely nothing - save for nice possession statistics.
The majority of our side had recent experience of playing outside the top
flight, but you'd not know it from this performance, as they failed to make
runs, find colleagues or exploit the space created when Fulham attempted to
shackle Matt Ritchie by putting two players on
Dwight Gayle had scored twice on his last visit here, but was handed the
impossible task of trying to take balls down out of the sky and fashion himself
a shooting opportunity. Such was the lack of communication between defence,
midfield and attack that we appeared to believe the suspended Aleksandar
Mitrovic was actually playing - and tailored our upfield bombardment
Ayoze Perez meanwhile needs to wake up to the fact that referees aren't quite as
indulgent at this level, with Hooper unmoved by his swooning.
Rafa persisted with his original selection for the second half there was an
uplift of sorts with
Ritchie switching from the left flank to the right and Daryl Janmaat
Having looked certain to depart, the Dutchman proved to be our main wide threat
but just couldn't get through the traffic - and when he did burst into the area
late on, was booked for an understandable reaction to Hooper pulling
play back for a Newcastle free kick - which was wasted.
Paul Dummett and Vurnon Anita foraged down the left with little success
meanwhile - the full back's place already looking under threat and the
midfielder presumably counting on replacing non-entity Jack Colback in the
middle, after tonight's understudying of Moussa Sissoko / Momo Diame.
As was the case with our set pieces though, the necessary quality was absent
save for Anita's drilled low ball that Ritchie hammered goalwards but straight at
David Button's feet.
And when substitute
Rolando Aarons scuffed his shot with time and space in the box the game looked
up and a couple of Fulham breakaways threatened to deepen our misery -
propelling home fans to greater efforts in rattling those freebie cardboard
things that Leicester have popularised.
By the end of the game, one of the central midfield berths was occupied by Jonjo
Shelvey, whose body language was anything but positive as he waited to come on
and disrupted his own side's efforts as much as Fulham's while on the field. He
was the nearest thing to Kevin Nolan or Alan Smith we had on the field all
night, even if the brawn outweighed the brains. We'll need him.
Quite what's going on with Jonjo is uncertain, but reacting badly to his temporary
stint as captain under Rafa last season seems to have done him no favours. and
along with the endless indisposition of Siem De Jong, narrowed down the
armband-wearing options until Jamaal Lascelles was the only choice. The 22
year-old led the team out tonight for his 22nd competitive Toon game (13th
The final whistle saw no negativity from the resolutely upbeat away support
though, with the team applauded as they trudged across the pitch back to the
dressing room. There's still just the 45 games for Rafa and his squad to
get it right of course and many of our most memorable seasons have begun with
similarly listless displays (0-1 v Spurs at home in 1993, 0-2 at Everton in
The major difference between the Premier League and the Championship to us is
one of perception: starting off with the intention of not losing is essential
when every top flight point is priceless, but in this league you simply have to
go out to win match after match. Chris Hughton's Brighton lost just five games
in 46 last season, but drew no less than 17 and ended up missing out on
We need to quickly re-acquire that winning habit on Saturday and Wednesday if
the unprecedented levels of optimism are to be maintained. Rafa urged fans last
week to "be patient, support the team, help the players - some of them
will need help." After this game, that's more than apparent.