When was the last time Newcastle United lost a game? We won’t lose on Friday. We might not win, but I’ve got every confidence we won’t lose. Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United don’t lose games of football. Ask yourself when the last time his side lost a game? What were you doing? Where were you? The date was April 9th at St Mary’s. The last time Newcastle United lost a home game was the very start of March. Rafa has transformed United into a side that doesn’t lose. Doesn’t lose Premier League games. Doesn’t lose friendlies. Won’t lose Championship games.
I’m heading to Fulham this week excited. Excited to watch Newcastle United play away from home. Realistically Benfica in 12/13 was the last time this happened.
For many of us we have the successful campaign of 09/10 to draw on. The league seems stronger this time. Blackpool came up through the play offs with us and West Brom and lost 14 games. That doesn’t happen anymore. Brighton lost three times last season and didn’t go up. Teams are much fitter than they were in 09/10 and gone are the days where promoted teams automatically struggle upon entry to the Premier League (Hull may challenge that theory this season). Therefore, United need be stronger, fitter and better.
I’ve absolutely no doubt we will be.
We’ve lost quality in Judas Townsend, Winjaldum and the lads who’ll be away shortly (Thauvin, Tiote and Sissoko). I’d have preferred them all to stay, as players of that quality in this league are impossible to come by for most clubs. I also see the argument of those who quote the lessons of 09/10. All the lads that stayed about were grafters and wanted to be here. I believe although the lads we’ve brought in may be a slight step down in quality, other characteristics the likes of Richie, Gayle, Hanley etc have will ultimately serve us better than those they’re replacing.
So it starts on Friday, in front of the nation. There’ll be a packed out away end (of course) and a full ‘neutral’ section. Three points is expected. We’re the biggest spenders by a mile in this division. We have the best manager in the country. Fulham finished 19th last season and look to be losing their top scorer and best player, after their second best player Moussa Dembele left for Celtic. Their manager is no fool after guiding to Watford to promotion two seasons ago. He was sacked for it. He guided Fulham away from relegation last season and his side scored loads of goals in the process. They also conceded plenty as well.
For that reason, I think a score draw is possible. We should win though. Fulham are not to be underestimated but realistically they’re not in the promotion picture and we need to be winning at sides like Fulham if we’re to gain promotion.
Who knows what the starting line up will be. I’d love to see a proper left back at left. Sorry, Paul. The other three pick themselves. Seltz will probably start in goal and midfield is anyone’s guess. I’m desperate for Shelvey to do well. Colback is a good player and will prosper at this level. Ritchie and Gayle should start. I would stick Aarons and Diame into the other spots. We have such strength in depth that anything could happen. This is a new United.
A draw won’t be the end of the world. United’s support is magnificent but let’s try and avoid the widespread hysteria that followed our only lean patch in 09/10 when we failed to beat QPR and Bristol City at home (drawing both) and a minority of fans wet the bed. There are going to be times this season where we do lose a game or two, or draw games we should win.
Chill. Rafa’s got this.
Prediction: 4-2 United
ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892
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