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Season 2018-19
Fulham (a) Premier League

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Sunday 12th May 2019, 3pm

 Craven Cottage

Conditions: "Miraculous"

Programme: £3.50


Newcastle United

0 - 4




9 mins A Matt Ritchie corner from the right found Jonjo Shelvey on the right side of the area. He controlled the ball before dispatching a fabulous dipping volley into the far corner of the net at the Hammersmith End of the ground.

Pursued by messrs Hayden, Schar and Lascelles the scorer legged it to the opposite end of the ground, where his celebrations in front of the away throng were intense to say the least, clenched fist salutes and kiss blowing rounded off by the "binocular" gesture seen previously from him.  

The exertions of that marathon celebration however may well have caught up with him in the second half, when he looked knackered.  1-0

11 mins Ritchie played in Christian Atsu on the left side of the box via a deflection and Atsu managed to get a shot away which was spilled by Sergio Rico straight to Ayoze Perez who prodded home the rebound from close range. 2-0

Half time: Cottagers 0 Magpies 2

61 mins Another Ritchie corner from the left was swung in and found the head of Fabian Schar who rose highest to nod down and into the Putney End goal. Celebrations this time included Ritchie repeatedly slapping the goalscorer on the back of his head. 3-0

90 mins Perez slotted a through ball for Salomon Rondon who had just managed to stay onside. Rico saved his first shot but the on-loan forward reacted first and managed to squeeze the rebound under the 'keeper and into the net.

The delight of the scorer was evident to all and he was congratulated by the rest of his team mates, even Martin Dubravka rushing from one end of the pitch to the other to join in. Ritchie's contribution to proceedings on this occasion was to tweak Rondon's ear. Rather you than me pal.... 4-0

Full time: Cottagers 0 Magpies 4

We Said


Reporter: "They (the fans) were singing we want you to stay, are you going to stay here?"

"No I'm not going to stay here, I'm going back to Newcastle right now!

"We did well. The main thing is this was the last game of the season, and to do that when you are safe, away, and in front of a lot of our fans, Iím really proud and pleased for this group of players.

"If you want to compete against these teams you have to do everything right. Are we close? You never know. If you spend money you might not stay.

"What I can guarantee is that was my last game this season! We will see what happens in the future. Obviously, you know we have a meeting coming soon, and hopefully, we will have more news for everyone.

"Because we have been talking about this for a while my answer is always the same. We have a meeting coming soon, hopefully, and then we will see where we are.

ďSomeone will ask me the question, do I want to stay? Itís very easy. I can see the potential of this massive club and hopefully we can do things in a way that will be good for everyone to move forward, maybe together. 

(Mike Ashley) said congratulations to everyone We were in the dressing room, so he was talking to me and the team, saying thank you very much but nothing special.

"He came to say thank you very much to all the players and everyone in the dressing room. We will have a meeting hopefully this week and we will see where we are. I donít know exactly
(when): hopefully this week but as soon as possible.

ďThe fans have been so good all season, since I have been here they have been fantastic and I am trying my best to give them something back.

"I am always emotional. I am proud to hear the fans singing my name. They have been like this all season. I am professional and if I can give them something back, like these four goals on the last day, a sunny day, itís nice to know we did what we had to do.

"Obviously I think in the end it was a very good season for us. We have proved that this is a very difficult competition and I am really proud of this group of players, giving everything even after the games we were safe.Ē

On Rondon:

"I think he was desperate to score another goal! And it was important for him because heís a striker. 

"Even more important for me is the contribution for the team: the way he was working in defence, linking with the players around, his assists.

"His ten goals was his best score mark in the Premier League and today he has another one. He is really happy and a key player.

"I think he has been an important player for us. I think he wants to stay, the problem is because he was so good the more will be watching him.Ē

On Shelvey:

"Itís true that itís been difficult. Heís someone that loves football, that wants to play every game... at the end
(of the season), he was patient, working hard. 

"Today, Iím really pleased because he scored a good goal and played a good game.Ē

They Said

Scott Parker:

"I think it was a harsh scoreline, but it is what it is. I donít think it really reflected the game but, on saying that, we got to the final third really well but we lacked a cutting edge about us at times.

"Ultimately theyíve got some good players who obviously hit us on the break, they scored with a world-class strike for the first, and it proved costly.

"It's disappointing really. I don't think the scoreline reflects the game but saying that, I thought in both boxes, we didn't do well enough at times.

"We had our chances or at least we got into those final third areas, but we lacked that cutting edge about us.

"The game ran away from us a little bit and rather than taking a deep breath and getting some sort of control.

"It is frustrating, really frustrating. We had become a bit more resilient but today I felt at times there were signs of the old us.

"When the game becomes a basketball match for us, which I mean back and forth, we are the side that look like they are going to concede.

"Of course it has been a disappointing season but in football as quick as you are down you are always around the corner from a new challenge and the new challenge is the Championship next season. 

"There were signs in our play today of what we are trying to do and that is something I love but, of course, there are some other things I am not keen on.

"We will be in tomorrow and will go through the finer details of pre-season. We will take a break next week and then it will be foot to the floor."



The last time Newcastle scored four goals on this ground was in a 5-4 FA Cup victory in 1956.

The Magpies won their fourth Premier League away game of the season, following
their successes at Burnley, Huddersfield Town and Leicester City.

United scored four goals away from home in the PL for the first time since a 4-1 win at Hull City in March 2014.  The last time Newcastle won by four clear goals on the road in the PL was a 4-0 success at Bolton Wanderers in October 2001 and they've done it just once previously in that competition - a 5-1 romp against Coventry City at Highfield Road back in September 1998.

Hey big scorer - NUFC biggest PL away wins:

May 2019 Fulham 4-0
Mar 2014 Hull City 4-1
Mar 2008 Spurs 4-1
Apr 2006 mackems 4-1
Dec 2005 West Ham 4-2
Sep 2001 smoggies 4-1
Oct 2001 Bolton Wanderers 4-0
Dec 2001 Leeds United 4-3
Sep 1998 Coventry City 5-1
Mar 1999 Derby County 4-3
Mar 1994 West Ham 4-2

(The 6-0 win at QPR in 2016 and 4-0 victory at Ipswich in 2009 were both in the Championship).

Away from home
this season
, United lost just seven times in 19 PL games, their best return since suffering five reverses on the road during the 2003/04 season.
This final day flourish also made it 18 goals scored away from home in the PL this season, matching last season's tally exactly.

Newcastle's last Capital success came at West Ham - a 3-2 victory in December 2017. Five visits to London this season before today harvested just one point (0-0 at Palace) and a solitary goal (1-2 at Chelsea), with defeats at Spurs (0-1), West Ham and Arsenal (both 0-2).

The Magpies took maximum points at Craven Cottage for the first time since December 2007, ending a run of six successive defeats there in Premier League and Championship fixtures.

The absence of
on-loan defender Antonio Barreca from the matchday squad confirmed him as the Newcastle player with the shortest-ever competitive senior career for the club - a whole four minutes against Spurs at Wembley Stadium back in February of this year.

Before his singular cameo, the PL record was held by James Coppinger for his 11 minute substitute outing in August 2000 - also against Spurs.

Here are the shortest competitive NUFC careers we've been able to trace, all of whom made single appearances from the bench except for luckless Joe Ford who broke his leg on his debut in 1932:

Shortest NUFC playing careers - top 10: 

Antonio Barreca 4 minutes (PL sub)
James Coppinger 11
(PL sub)
Lewis Guy 11
(UEFA sub)
Phil Airey 12
(FA sub)
Justin Fashanu 20
(LC sub)
Keith Mulgrove 22 minutes (D1 sub)
Ford 22 minutes (D2 starter)
Steve Guppy 27 minutes (LC sub)
Lubo Satka 31 minutes (FA sub)
Martin Gorry 45 minutes (D1 sub)

(There may be others who played less than 45 minutes, but older match reports often don't provide enough detail. In pre-substitute days, it wasn't uncommon for injured players to leave the field and not return, or to spend time on the sidelines and then rejoin play.)  

Two in double figures - for the first time since Ba and Cisse in 2012

NUFC PL Scorers 2018/19:

Ayoze Perez 12
Salomon Rondon 11
Fabian Schar 4
Clark 3
Joselu 2
Matt Ritchie 2
Christian Atsu 1
Isaac Hayden 1
Kenedy 1
Sean Longstaff 1
Yoshinori Muto 1
Jonjo Shelvey 1
DeAndre Yedlin 1
OG 1

The loan periods of Salomon Rondon, Kenedy and Antonio Barreca have now concluded, while Mo Diame is on course to become a free agent.
Missing out through injury meanwhile
were Florian Lejeune, Miguel Almiron, Sean Longstaff, Ki and DeAndre Yedlin. Javier Manquillo was excused duty and remained on Tyneside for the birth of his son.

Failing to appear in any of the last ten games since a brief sub outing against Burnley was Joselu (out of contract in 2020), while Ciaran Clark hasn't kicked a ball in the PL since netting at Chelsea in January. He's under contract until 2021.

The two new names on the bench today were locally-born reserve defenders Lewis Cass (wearing 49) and Kelland Watts (clad in 53). Neither player got on to make their senior bow.

This result meant that Newcastle failed to concede a goal in any of their six PL meetings with the three sides relegated this season (Cardiff 3-0 home & 0-0 away, Huddersfield 2-0 home & 1-0 away, Fulham 0-0 home & 4-0 away).

For only the second time in 23 PL seasons, United won their closing away game. Their only other success was against QPR at Loftus Road six years ago to the day, in 2013. 

Final away game results - Premier League:

2018/19: won 4-0 at Fulham
lost 0-1 at Spurs
2015/16: drew 0-0 at Aston Villa
2014/15: lost 1-2 at QPR
2013/14: lost 1-2 at Liverpool
2012/13: won 2-1 at QPR
2011/12: lost 1-3 at Everton
2010/11: drew 2-2 at Chelsea
2008/09: lost 0-1 at Aston Villa
2007/08: lost 1-3 at Everton
2006/07: drew 1-1 at Watford
2005/06: drew 0-0 at Birmingham City
2004/05: lost 0-2 at Everton
2003/04: drew 1-1 at Liverpool
2002/03: drew 2-2 at West Bromwich Albion
2001/02: lost 1-3 at Southampton
2000/01: lost 0-3 at Liverpool
1999/00: drew 0-0 at Derby County
1998/99: lost 0-2 at Leicester City
1997/98: lost 0-1 at Blackburn Rovers
1996/97: drew 0-0 at Manchester United
1995/96: drew 1-1 at Nottingham Forest
1994/95: lost 0-1 at Blackburn Rovers
1993/94: lost 0-2 at Sheffield United

Magpies @ Fulham - PL era:

2018/19: Won 4-0 Shelvey, Perez, Schar, Rondon
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

(All at Craven Cottage except *Loftus Road)
(All in Premier League except +Championship)



Until we meet again....

Sizeable doubts may remain over the future of the manager and many of his players, but Rafa Benitez and his side signed off for the season with an emphatic success at Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon.

Goals from Jonjo Shelvey, Ayoze Perez, Fabian Schar and Salomon Rondon delighted thousands of away supporters - including around 1,500 who arrived in a flotilla of specially-chartered boats.

It took less than ten minutes for the party to kick into gear, Shelvey bagging his first senior goal in over a year with an unstoppable effort following Matt Ritchie's corner.

And the game was effectively over just two minutes later when Perez knocked home a second from close range after Christian Atsu's initial shot was blocked by goalkeeper Sergio Rico.

Both scorers had opportunities to add to their tally before the break while Fulham's best chance saw Aleksandar Mitrovic power a header just wide of the goal following a corner - the former Magpie striker clearly not appreciating negative comparisons with Rondon made by the away support.

The home side's best period of play came after the interval as United began to snooze in the sunshine, but the leakiest defence in the division was breached for a third time after the hour when another Ritchie corner was nodded towards at the back post by the unmolested Schar.

Within three minutes the hosts thought they'd made a breakthrough, when a shot from Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa was deflected by Floyd Ayite past Martin Dubravka. However the linesman raised his flag indicate he'd detected an offside that replays didn't support.

Three ahead, further goals looked on the cards for the visitors whenever they advanced, Rondon seeing one goalbound effort deflected narrowly wide and blasting another into the side netting. 

United's biggest victory of the season was completed in the final seconds though when Rondon notched his goal, shooting home at the second attempt to round off the season in the great style we've come to enjoy at Gallowgate in recent campaigns under Rafa.

Beginning with the 5-1 win over Spurs in 2016 as we bid farewell to the Premier League, Barnsley were then defeated 3-0 on Tyneside a year later and Villa held Brighton to unexpectedly deliver the Championship title. And 12 months ago came another perfect day, as Chelsea shipped three goals without reply at a sun-drenched SJP.

We wrote then that it was "a joyous affirmation of the Geordie Nation; a celebration of their beloved football team and a expression of gratitude for the work of a certain Spanish manager."

A year later and not much has changed, except we've finally broken our transfer record and ended up a point better off than in 2018 with 45, but a finishing position of thirteenth rather than tenth. 

There's justified frustration also that our recruitment inertia last summer and the consequent slow start could well have cost us the opportunity to even improve on that tenth spot. Rondon's first Premier League goal came against Bournemouth in November, game 12 of a 38 game PL campaign.
Full time at Craven Cottage brought no grand farewell gesture from the manager though, simply crossing the pitch with the players and applauding the cheering hordes behind the goal whose admiration for him remains undiminished.

Be it Watford at Wembley, Liverpool and Spurs in Madrid or Chelsea and Arsenal in god knows where, there couldn't be more pride and fervour than were on display here today for a team who were still capable of being relegated until just three weeks ago. How and why this cannot be harnessed for the common good (and fiscal gain) remains a complete mystery.

The popular perception furthered by the media is that Benitez enjoys complete and unconditional support amongst Newcastle followers. From our own experience that isn't quite the case, with variable transfer dealings and tactical negativity the most common gripes we encounter.

What does unite fans is a respect for his work here and a genuine fear of relapsing into comedy club status, with some discredited has-been washing up on Barrack Road as Rafa's successor - willing to work for a fraction of his wages and toe the SD party line in press conferences or private briefings.

Whether Rafa stays or goes still seems yet to be decided; whether the limited concessions that the club are prepared to make will be sufficient to keep him on board. Ultimately though, the decision may be decided by the actions of owners elsewhere; offering him the means and the opportunity to be genuinely competitive as a manager once again. If he gets that, he's off, despite the love-in. 

Attempts were made recently to draw Benitez into discussion of Klopp's Liverpool versus his Anfield side and a certain night in Istanbul. All harmless stuff, but doubtless reminding him that it's some time since his mode of travel included open top buses and time is passing. He's 60 next April.

Whether today proves to be a staging post to somewhere else or a high point before yet another decline remains to be seen. Given the anticipated decimation of the squad between now and August 8th (reasons for up to 18 senior players seen this season to depart aren't difficult to find), it's certainly the end of something, but what it's the beginning of is rather less clear. 

Over to you Mike.

As is customary at this point, we'll express our gratitude to the whole damn lot of you. Be it tipoffs, rants, corrections, comments or anything in between, we remain eternally grateful for the input and encouragement. To those who contribute in different ways meanwhile, caps are duly doffed.

Biffa & Niall  

Page last updated 27 June, 2019