Post match review – Fulham 1-0 Newcastle United

It’s fair to say the season opener did not go well for Newcastle United. The euphoria of having world renowned Rafa Benitez commit to the Geordie faithful kept many a fan full of optimism for the upcoming year in the Championship, with bookmakers and pundits alike tipping the Toon to finish as League Champions.

Several long suffering fans have been fervent in their belief that there will no quick fix for years of stagnation and yesterday they were proved right. Mitigating circumstances could be put forward by outlining the fact that the club has seen 8 new players come in, with 5 of those starting yesterday in Mats Selz, Grant Hanley, Isaac Hayden, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle.

There is no doubt that such significant change to the line up will require an adjustment period. However, that particular excuse does not wash for what can only be considered a poor performance by the Magpies. Not when you consider that Fulham also happen to have signed 8 new players this season and 4 of them started the game yesterday: left-back Denis Odoi, Chelsea loanee Tomas Kalas, the centre-half Michael Madl, signed from Sturm Graz and forward Sone Aluka, who came in from Hull. In fact, 3 of Fulham’s 4 defenders were brand new – and yet they looked far more organised then Newcastle did defensively.

Newcastle set out in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Vernon Anita was deployed on the right, with Matt Ritchie on the left. Ritchie did not look particularly comfortable cutting in on his weaker right foot for the majority of the game until he switched to the right later on. That left Anita on the left, with an anonymous Jack Colback sitting back alongside a a player in Isaac Hayden who put in lots of effort, but still needs time to adjust. Anita did try to get the ball moving forward but he still fails to convince anywhere other than at right back.

There will be no player by player scoring here, but I’ll cherry pick some of the more poignant stats. The two sides appear to have set out with a similar formation and game plan. Fulham’s Jokanovic is no managerial lighweight, having previously gotten Watford promoted from this very league before being unceremoniously canned and having his chance at the big time cruelly stolen from him. The point being he is a manager that knows this league and more importantly, knows how to succeed in it. A challenge Rafa Benitez will need to rise to sharpish if the Toon is to top the table come the season’s end.

There was not a great deal to be positive about following this game, however I will focus on this direct comparison first: Jack Colback versus Isaac Hayden. Colback had an impressive pass completion of 89%, but Hayden was not too shoddy with 86% himself. The main difference between their passing being their intent with the ball. Colback only managed 9 forward passes. Hayden did over double that with 21. Hayden had 17 more minutes than Colback on the pitch, but that’s still some contrast. Looking at direct head to heads and you have to wonder what does Colback bring? Here are their respective heat maps showing Hayden is more mobile and effective.

Hayden V Colback heat map
Hayden V Colback heat map

Colback managed one cross, zero successful tackles from only one effort, lost his only aerial duel, made no interceptions, one clearance, two blocks, zero take on’s, zero key passes and zero interceptions. Total useful actions: 4. Conversely, Hayden managed two clearances, three interceptions, won 4 of his 5 aerial duels, half of his 6 tackle attempts, won one take on from two attempts with no crosses or key passes to his name. Total useful actions: 13. Neither is going to set the world alight in the final third and we don’t expect that. What we do expect is a defensive midfielder capable of influencing the game – putting himself about, making his presence felt and moving the ball forward for the more creative players to do their bit. It’s clear already on day 1 that Colback is very poor competition for Hayden, who will no doubt bring an improvement in this position compared to last season.

It was Gayle, Ritchie and Anita with one key pass each that created Newcastle’s best chances to score, but poor finishing from Ritchie and young Rolando Aarons in particular ensured we did not capitalise on the little spark that we did show. Speaking of Matt Ritchie. He is going to be some player. It did not come off for him yesterday, but that was not for lack of effort. He had 4 shots on goal, 2 on target and 2 blocked. He attempted 7 crosses but many did not reach a forward. This can be explained by a mixture of lack of intelligence from the forwards, resolute defending by Fulham and his own lack of accuracy at times – but he was there looking for a way in all the same. His passing was at 80% too. Anita showed he is not a winger and it’s a position that needs to be addressed. For a neat and tidy player, he managed only 70% passing accuracy and made only two attmpts at crossing. He still managed to out do Colback defensively though with one block, two crosses, two interceptions and a tackle – interestingly almost all in the right back slot – where Daryl Janmaat was playing.

Janmaat however, is deceptive. His crossing was woeful with zero completed from 6 attempts, but he still managed to win 3 of 5 attempted tackles in the right back area. His passing stats look good with 90% complete, but of 57 passes, only 13 were forward and he won no take on’s going forward. I honestly think he needs to concentrate on staying back and let the wingers do the forward work instead of leaving gaps in defense. He is not bad defensively, having made 8 clearances, one block and one interception.

Dummett on the left managed only 3 successful tackles from 9 attempts. He won no take on’s, completed 1 cross from 4 attempts, created nothing and made no interceptions – but did manage 23 forward passes, 2 blocks and 4 clearances. The stats say he should be a central player.

I wont go into much more but just want to highlight Ayoze Perez. We know his delivery from set pieces was terrible yesterday. However his overall contribution was shocking. Zero successful crosses from 4 attempts, 2 shots – one blocked and the other off target, only 11 attempted passes of which 3 were forward, zero chances created, one failed take on, two lost aerial battles from two, 3 of 5 tackles failed and nothing in the defensive side of the field. He was completely ineffective. What about Dwight Gayle? Well he was back on at least one occasion, making a clearance in the Newcastle box. He was useless in the air with 5 of 6 challenges failed, he failed two tackles and made no crosses but did create one chance on the edge of the box amidst a 90% successful pass rate – only 2 of which were forward.

It’s been commented on already, but the weaknesses in the squad are obvious. Very little creativity from midfield, not enough natural wingers, no natural left back, a right back that thinks he’s a winger – except he’s a poor one. No physical presence up front when Mitrovic is on one of his enforced holidays thanks to poor discipline. If those positions can be addressed by the end of the window (Rafa has hinted that most of them will be), then this season will go a lot more smoothly than yesterday’s trip to Fulham did.

About Shamrock

Like everyone here, support Newcastle United. Not the easiest side to feel good about at times, but it's our side!

40 thoughts on “Post match review – Fulham 1-0 Newcastle United

  1. Excellent summary Shamrock mate. I’m not as upset as many about the loss. First away match at Fulham was going to be difficult. Especially with a blind referee. We are still light on the left side. And we have Diame and Mitro to come into the lineup. Rafa will snap some heads around after that one as well.

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  2. We need a big man up front, oh for Andy.
    We then have 3 smaller strikers, Gayle, Perez and Armstrong,
    Ritchie looks good on the right, but we desperately need a left winger, because Aarons is not yet the finished item.
    Then Hayden and Diame in the middle?

    w

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  3. its early days mates dont panic it will come good Rafa is nee mug just needs a home win and things will fall in place will take while for players to gel,pre-season is only for fitness,we have one of the best managers in Europe it will be fine,i found quite a few faults last night but so would Rafa

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  4. GeordieTwo:
    Where is everybody? Watching the Olympics?

    if i want to see 700 people running about like idiots i just need to go to Sunderland 😆 😆 😆

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  5. Sham: the stats back up everything we saw. Lack of cutting edge up front and a fatal error at the back. I was surprised by how ineffective Colback was compared to Hayden, so you would think that Colback has to be benched and we should forget about playing 2 holding midfielders, EVER. Cancel the experiment of Perez taking free kicks, and, in fact cancel the experiment of playing 2 short arses up front. Let Gayle run his heart out for 60 minutes and then replace with Perez. The problem with Perez is that he doesn’t score enough goals for a forward. If that doesn’t pick up in the next 10 games he should be played as a winger, or deeper, but certainly not a number 10. I am not sure if he will ever score enough to be a number 10, so as many have alluded to, his face might just not fit at NUFC.

    Anita is a right back or back up DM. We cannot continue to carry all of these players who offer no goal threat. And I like Anita, he is just not a final 3rd type player.

    Selz didn’t do anything wrong which is the main thing for a goalie. I am still not totally sold on Darlow because he doesn’t command his area so I think I would see how Selz does.

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  6. It is a bit unfair to pass final judgement on players after one game, even though I just did it 🙂 Not really, we saw the same attributes and faults in our players as we saw all last season so we know what needs to be done with the holdovers and we also know where we need to add players.

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  7. Sham good read cheers mate.
    For me I agree with Ice , as I said lastnight it was our 1st game of the season in a new league, away from home and with most of the team playing together for the 1st time.
    DON’T PANIC ?

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  8. We also know Rafa will get us organised – it is what he does. At a minimum we need another option up front and on the wing. I think Perez’s best games for us have been when he stays a bit deeper as he does have good control (usually, but not yesterday) and has a good engine and will track back. The more I think about it the more I realise he is not an out and out forward. I think he scores about 1 in 6 and that puts too much pressure on others to score.

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  9. Premandup
    If Carroll was playing I reckon you could take your pick between who is on best form from Gayle, Perez and Armstrong. They could fill their boots from his flick on’s. If we don’t get another centre forward then Mitrovic needs to step up big time.

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  10. Cheers guys. I’m not panicking. Just pointing out where we are weak and backing it up with facts (Rafa likes facts).

    I have no doubt we will address some of those positions and go in to win the league, via a choppy first couple of months.

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  11. Thank you Sham, good review mate.
    I think there is much work to be done on the squad, we look very lightweight up front and are in desperate need of a AMF to burst through with the ball. I think Diame will be a big difference but then we’ll lose him in January for two months when he’s off with Senegal and then what will plan b be? if his influence proves to be essential to our game then his absence could seriously derail what may be a good run by then. There is no doubt we need a big powerful header of the ball up front, the Fulham players knew we were weak at set pieces and that that would be their best inroad to getting a goal and so it proved. Must protect the post better at corners, that was shocking defending yesterday, a bloody free header for heavens sake. We will get bullied by plenty of teams this season and our lot have to man up sharpish. The Championship is a different animal since our last time there, the game has gotten faster and the players quite often as good as their PLcounterparts , which is why many are being bought by PL clubs. Big wake up call for our players yesterday but it shouldn’t derail us, rather they now know they have to prove the doubters wrong.

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  12. Good write up, Sham.

    Rafa has always played 2 holding midfielders wherever he’s been so can’t see him changing now.

    We just need to settle and we will be fine. Cream rises to the top at the end.

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  13. Interesting piece in the Mag saying all our attacking is coming from the right. I remember when it was down the left for years with Enrique & Jonas forming a partnership. Don’t write off Aarons yet, he nearly fluked one at the end.

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  14. DJG:
    Interesting piece in the Mag saying all our attacking is coming from the right.I remember when it was down the left for years with Enrique & Jonas forming a partnership.Don’t write off Aarons yet,he nearly fluked one at the end.

    We had 28 crosses yesterday, 14 on each flank. 3 chances created, 1 dead smack in the middle, the other two inside the right side of the box. We had 2 successful take one on the left side of the pitch and 1 on the right. Throw in distribution was pretty even down both flanks but our heat map does show significantly more activity down the right. What is telling though, is the fact that our heat map shows a large chasm in and around the penalty spot, in fact inside mist of the box. Fulham have coverage all over our box. Tells me our strikers were completely ineffective. Movement not good enough from them because the balls were coming in.

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  15. Interesting looking at Ritchie’s heat map. Way more effective on the right.

    Anita by the way showed **** all activity down the left. I hope Rafa does not play him there again. We gave a big problem needs filling on the left wing and up front. Those 2 need sorting before anything else.

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  16. Nottingham looked very poor yesterday first half, they have some raw players that aren’t afraid to make the odd mistake and get into your face.
    Our players need to face up to the realities of quality doesnt always prevail. Hard graft and endeavour does
    .

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  17. gash, thats my concern too, plus another unfortunate fact is that we don’t have the “quality” that we think we do, wd have a bunch of journeymen who need to learn how to scrap and battle. if we had so much “quality” we wouldn’t have been floundering around at the bottom of the league for the last 3 seasons.
    the only quality I see at the toon are Rafa and the fans. The rest of the big talkers need to start showing results in my opinion, the same wasters who got us relegated should be showing some pride and doing there utmost for the fans and the toon.
    7000 fans on the road on a friday night to watch that garbage. what an embarassment.

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  18. Talk Rafa is looking to offload Mitro. I see when he got sent off at the end of last season that Rafa was pissed. He ignored him as the lad walked off. Not convinced he fancies the lad, but if he can control his temper this season then he is exactly what we need given our circumstances. I’m hoping this story has been deliberately circulated by Rafa’s staff in order to fire a rocket up Mitro backside and get him focused. If he goes, we then need 2 big forwards to come in. Don’t we the logic in it. Despite his shortcomings, he still managed 1 in 4 in his debut season in a piss poor side. I believe he can improve significantly this season.

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  19. Shamrock:
    Talk Rafa is looking to offload Mitro. I see when he got sent off at the end of last season that Rafa was pissed. He ignored him as the lad walked off. Not convinced he fancies the lad, but if he can control his temper this season then he is exactly what we need given our circumstances. I’m hoping this story has been deliberately circulated by Rafa’s staff in order to fire a rocket up Mitro backside and get him focused. If he goes, we then need 2 big forwards to come in. Don’t we the logic in it. Despite his shortcomings, he still managed 1 in 4 in his debut season in a piss poor side. I believe he can improve significantly this season.

    Was just about to post same thing Sham, I would be gutted if he left as if he can control his temper I think he could do well. As you say if he goes we’ll need two big lads in and god only knows where from.

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  20. Kim I don’t think we can find a big striker who is also going to get bags full of goals. Not in this league. We need to hope Gayle and Perez can feed off a big forward and do the scoring from knock on etc. Based on that, all we need is a big forward that will bully defenders and open up space.

    I know I keep banging this deum and people think it’s stupid because he’s 32 – but Jonathan Walters on a 1 year deal would be ideal for me. He is a monster. That’s what we need and that type of player is not very common.

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  21. so Rafa wants to sell Mitro because he cannot trust him?? or is this just paper **** trying to stir unrest??

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  22. If he goes I hope a big lad replaces him as I feel a lot of the goals conceded this year will be from set pieces . Mitro when he was on was brilliant helping out in that respect, he also terrified opposition defences, such a shame if Rafa doesn’t fancy him. Don’t want to see another short guy arrive for up front, not when we’re in this league and still so poor getting on the end of crosses at both ends of the pitch.

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  23. Shamrock:
    Kim I don’t think we can find a big striker who is also going to get bags full of goals. Not in this league. We need to hope Gayle and Perez can feed off a big forward and do the scoring g from knock on etc. Based on that, all we need is a bug forward that will bully defenders and open up space.

    I know I keep Bambi g this drum and people think k it’s stupid because he’s 32 – but Jonathan Walters on a 1 year deal would be ideal for me. He is a monster. That’s what we need and that type of player is not very common.

    No Sham, I totally agree mate, he’d be a good signing imo

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  24. I reckon it’s rubbish Ice. Why would it only come out now at the end of the window? If he wanted to sell him surely he’d have put him up for sale ages ago? I reckon it’s either made up, or a deliberate leak by the staff to keep the lad focused.

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  25. agreed regarding walters, also think we should keep mitro.

    i used to play centre half for a few years and i would rather play against the featherweights, Perez etc than a bruiser like mitro or andy carroll..

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  26. Shamrock:
    I reckon it’s rubbish Ice. Why would it only come out now at the end of the window? If he wanted to sell him surely he’d have put him up for sale ages ago? I reckon it’s either made up, or a deliberate leak by the staff to keep the lad focused.

    i agree mate,wonder if Rafa would try Bony city say he can go for 15mil but Rafa would have to do a lot of tallking to get him to step drop down

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  27. Am I the only one who is really concerned about Perez too? He doesn’t look like the lad we signed, he was terrible on Friday night and honestly I don’t know where his position should be. He is not a forward that much is certain, should he be out wide? He needs a position to master as at present I don’t know how he fits in. Talented lad with out doubt but I am confused as how best we utilise him.

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