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Season 2018-19
Fulham (h) Premier League

 

 
Date:
Saturday 22nd December 2018, 3.00pm

Venue:
 St. James' Park

Conditions: Muted

 



Newcastle United

Fulham

0 - 0
 

Teams

Goals

Half time: Magpies 0 Cottagers 0

Full time: Magpies 0 Cottagers 0

We Said

 

Rafa Benitez:


"
During the game I was not happy with some situations and decisions. The worst thing is that, in a game we could win, where we were pushing and had control, we could have lost it in the last counter-attack.

"Sometimes it can be tense at home, when they say you have to win the game, but Fulham spent a lot of money in the summer (partly on a striker that he didn't rate!). 

"They are bottom but have a good team. They are organised, they had five at the back and were dangerous on the counter-attack. It's good that we didn't lose but the negative is that we gave Fulham those situations to score and were a bit lucky in the end.

"It was not easy to break them down. Overall, I think we deserved to win because we were in control. We will analyse what we do, and we have to improve if we want to break down these teams and win this kind of game.

"Itís a pity because people were expecting us to win this game but I was more concerned about the mistake we made at the end. The only positive thing is we didnít lose, with the way the last five minutes were. And, also, we got four points in the last two games.

"My focus now is trying to find the right team to play Liverpool and try to get three points.

"We have to be realistic and understand we will be in the bottom half for the whole season and, if we can be better than three teams, it will be another miracle.

"It would be a miracle to stay up, yes. A game like that is confirmation of what I know. Even if we strengthen in January it will be a miracle if we stay up.

"I like the challenge and we will try to do our best. When you lose or cannot win, you cannot enjoy it, but I know it is my job and I have to be sure I make the right decisions all the time."
 

They Said

 

Claudio Ranieri said:

"At this moment for us, it's important to get a point, it's important to have a clean sheet because in the last matches, we have played well and from their first chance, the opponent has scored a goal. They made a lot of crosses - 30 - and they shot at goal, but our keeper never had to save anything.

"For the players, don't think, it's important, play, then play, then play, then clean up the mind.

"For Fulham, bottom of the table, every match is crucial. Every match could be good to survive or not survive. But we'll fight until the end.

"I need a clean sheet. I need a clean sheet, like I need bread, like I need pasta.

"We need to make a point in two or three matches in a row. It's important to take confidence, because now the players are a little nervous and it's normal."
 

Stats


Newcastle recorded a fourth 0-0 draw of the season in their 17th game. Their Premier League record is six, which was set in the 1994/95 campaign, which was played over 42 games. 

Cottagers in Toon - last 10:

2018/19 drew 0-0
2016/17 lost 1-3 Murphy
2013/14 won 1-0 Ben Arfa
2012/13 won 1-0 Cisse
2011/12 won 2-1 Best 2
2010/11 drew 0-0
2008/09 lost 0-1
2007/08 won 2-0 Viduka, Owen
2006/07 lost 1-2 Parker
2005/06 drew 1-1 N'Zogbia

This was the sixth time that boss Claudio Ranieri has occupied the away dugout at SJP, Fulham becoming the fourth different club he's overseen on Tyneside:

2018/19 Newcastle 0 Fulham 0 (PL)
2015/16 Newcastle 0 Leicester City 3 (PL)
2007/08 Newcastle 2 Juventus 0 (Fr)
2003/04 Newcastle 2 Chelsea 1 (PL)
2002/03 Newcastle 2 Chelsea 1 (PL)
2001/02 Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2 (PL)


After ten home games, United have just seven points from a possible 30, winning two, drawing one and losing seven, scoring only seven goals and conceding fifteen:

Spurs lost 1-2 (0-0)
Chelsea lost 1-2 (1-2)
Arsenal lost 1-2 (0-0)
Leicester lost 0-2 (0-1)
Brighton lost 0-1 (0-1)
Watford won 1-0 (0-0)
Bournemouth won 2-1 (2-1)
West Ham lost 0-3 (0-1)
Wolves lost 1-2 (1-1)
Fulham drew 0-0 (0-0)

(The half time scores are in brackets, showing we've only been ahead after 45 minutes once)

This is only the fourth time in our history that we've won just two of our first ten home league games, having also done so in 1957/58, 1988/89 and 2015/16. In all of those previous three seasons though, we drew more than one game (one in 57/58 and three in 88/89 and 15/16).

We've never lost seven of our first ten home games before, meaning that 2018/19 is officially the worst start to a home league season in our entire history. 

The most home defeats in a season is 11 (1957/58 and 1977/78). In the PL it's nine (2012/13)
 

Waffle

 


Rather oddly someone with 500 games
under his belt in this country, the Newcastle manager chose his press call before this game to reveal a hitherto-unknown enthusiasm for British TV sitcoms.

Rafa's rationale for watching the likes of Fawlty Towers, Dads Army and Blackadder was to help improve his language skills. For those condemned to a lifetime of viewing in black and white however, this latest episode was anything but light entertainment.

Another wooden performance from an undistinguished cast brought no originality or
spontaneity; ham-fisted attempts at improvisation best forgotten and consistently lacking a punchline.

Were a different director at the helm, the chances of a second series would be diminishing rapidly but here, viewer loyalty ensures that this lamentable lot continue to enjoy high viewing figures.

The manager may have had a cunning plan to
overcome basement side Fulham, but his cast were seldom comfortable with their script and almost fluffed their lines in the final scenes.  

Comedy villain Aleksandar Mitrovic returned and the Serbian striker almost snatched three points a minute from time, only to be denied by a vital block from Jamaal Lascelles - replays revealing that he'd led with his arm and was perhaps lucky not to have conceded a penalty kick for doing so.

That late chance for the visitors came shortly after a moment of madness from Martin Dubravka, caught with the ball at his feet in his own area, but just able to evade Mitro and hoof clear. 

Despite registering only their second clean sheet in ten home games this season, Newcastle failed to build on that foundation and allowed Fulham to achieve their first shutout with comparative ease. 

The result dropped United down one place in 15th - five ahead of third-bottom Burnley and seven away from the Cottagers who have won just twice in their opening eighteen outings. 

What goalmouth action there was from United was limited to fruitless penalty shouts and the odd half-chance following a set piece. A header from Jamaal Lascelles bobbed across the six yard box in the 18th minute but other than that, a blocked shot from Matt Ritchie and a couple of laughable efforts that ended up high in the Gallowgate End were the sum total of our efforts.

In typical fashion, our deserved slot just before the closing credits on Match of the Day meant sitting through a cavalcade of shots from other Premier League sides; most notably the sweetest of first-time strikes from old boy Andros Townsend in Crystal Palace's victory at Manchester City.

Our spot kick claims consisted of one more than hopeful shout when Rondon made contact with an opponent and a more valid claim when Kenedy was impeded in front of goal by Joe Bryan as a 70th minute cross came over. Referee Martin Atkinson wasn't interested though, Rafa Benitez angrily appealing in vain for the latter one, before letting slip a post-watershed outburst.

The absence of extravagantly-priced players from this team surely cannot justify our collective inability to shoot on target though - or the apparent reluctance to do so. Totally unprofessional. 

Having moulded our approach around launching balls up to Rondon, we failed to offer any support to him as he tried to maintain possession with a clutch of defenders round him. The number 9
never had a heading opportunity for one swiftly-executed cross by Ritchie from the left late in the first half that the Venezuelan reached but couldn't head goalwards. Are you being served? I think not.

A miserable record of just seven points from a possible 30 at St. James' Park this season points to ongoing and significant problems that are literally close to home. 

We simply cannot play here; there is nobody willing or able to take the initiative. No guile, no pace.

Our progress remains ponderous, almost glacial at times. If they made a TV programme about us, it certainly wouldn't be called the Fast Show. This side is far more suited to away games, when the onus is on the opposition make the play, allowing us to react accordingly as submissive partners.

There's no "fear factor" inhibiting players in terms of negative home crowd reaction either, at least during the game today - although some booing was evident at full time. Support to the team in the second half was loud and unlike the previous home game when ironic applause accompanied the departure of Ayoze Perez, the equally inept Christian Atsu was applauded off here.

This may be another point nearer safety, but was verging on the unwatchable at times, especially attempts to play the ball around and out of our own area that became almost comical when not self-destructive - quite literally, ever decreasing circles.

A failure to ask questions of a porous visiting defence and nervous goalkeeper meanwhile is verging on the criminal and could yet be a very costly mistake, ahead of visits to Liverpool, Watford and Chelsea and a home meeting with Manchester United. It would be a brave man who backed us to collect a single point before the visit of Cardiff City to SJP in a month - never mind a victory. 

By the time the Bluebirds appear at Gallowgate, any rational and normal club would expect to have made additions to their squad. We of course are neither of those and off-field uncertainty looks like the perfect excuse to ignore what is staring us in the face.


And given his post-match comments about avoiding relegation counting as a "miracle", the apparent lack of progress towards a change of ownership coupled with another futile transfer window may yet result in Rafa admitting defeat and quoting the Two Ronnies
in saying, "it's goodnight from him".

Biffa


Page last updated 07 January, 2019