Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez hopes that his players have received a “wake-up call” after they were beaten 1-0 by Fulham in the first match of their Championship season on Friday night.
Benitez’s players looked ill-equipped for the pace of Championship football at Craven Cottage, leaving a frustrated Benitez wishing that the experience gets through to the players so that it does not happen again.
“I am really disappointed because we did not play at the level we expected,” Benitez said in his post-match press conference. “We had some control, but we did not keep the ball in attack, and we did not win second balls in midfield. We have to improve. This game could be a wake-up call for everyone. Hopefully it will be.”
Newcastle were heavily backed to be promoted back to the Premier League, but Benitez admitted afterwards that this was not the performance of a team heading in the right direction. “We have to make sure that we wake up and that we are ready for the next match, that we work harder. Everybody has to realise that it will be like this for the rest of the season.”
Benitez was asked afterwards if there would be more new signings before the transfer window shut, but he said that the problem was the mental application of the players on the pitch. “You could see when we were losing 1-0 a bit of anxiety, which we have to manage better,” he said. “We need a clear idea of what we want to do. We have to be more calm and do better. We had a lot of players who have played in the Championship, it was just a question of managing the situation a bit better.”
Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic was delighted with his team’s performance at the end of a week in which their best player Ross McCormack was sold to Aston Villa for £12million. “It is a great result for us,” he said. “I am very pleased with how my team played. They all played together, they all suffered together, and this is good news. They played like a serious football team, they played a serious football game. If we follow this way we can think about a better season than we made last season.”