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Fulham 1-0 Newcastle Cham 01 1617 - Daily Mail

last updated Tuesday 09th August 2016, 11:53 AM

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Craig Hope at Daily Mail

Fulham (1) 1-0 (0) Newcastle

New season, same old problems.

This was supposed to be the Rafalution, a new-look Newcastle United ready to take the Championship by storm after £45million's worth of summer renovation.

In the end they did their best impersonation of the rabble who were relegated from the Premier League last season. No energy, no invention, no idea.

The wait for a first away win of 2016 goes on. Yes, not since December of last year have they triumphed on the road.

It was that lousy record which saw them demoted and Rafa Benitez must now act quickly to address those away-day ills or they'll stand little chance of making a swift return to the top-flight.

The Spaniard agrees.

'There were no positives - the only one is that it's the beginning of the season and we have to wake up.

'We have to work harder and it has to be better for rest of the season,' said Benitez.

Former Newcastle boss Steve McClaren was pontificating on the touchline before the game, hailing the influence Benitez now has when it comes to transfers.

But while flaws behind the scenes have been addressed since McClaren's sacking in March, shortcomings on the pitch remain.

Fulham's Matt Smith scored the only goal and Slavisa Jokanovic's side were good value for the win which had their supporters trumpeting their lofty league position.

Newcastle, by contrast, are bottom.

They won’t stay there, of course, but there is work to be done to snap the team from the slumber of last term.

Their long-ball tactic - employed throughout here - was baffling given a front four of Vurnon Anita, Ayoze Perez, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle boast the average height of an under-14s side.

Still, though, it was from an early lofted pass from deep that Perez, threatening to steal clear on goal, was tumbled over by Dennis Odoi.

Nothing came from the free-kick on the fringe of the area.

In fact, nothing came of anything Newcastle offered in attack during a lacklustre first half.

Defender Grant Hanley was fortunate to avoid the concession of a penalty when sliding recklessly on man-of-the-match Sone Aluko, but at the other end Newcastle should have had a spot-kick of their own when Ryan Tunnicliffe handled Ritchie's centre.

Smith's goal arrived on the stroke of half-time as he lost captain Jamaal Lascelles to head home from a Tom Cairney corner.

Newcastle were slightly better in the second half and David Button saved well from Ritchie's low blast.

But that was as close as they came and the best thing about Newcastle was their 7,000 supporters. It all felt frighteningly familiar for them.

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