5 things we learned as Newcastle returned to the Championship


Newcastle's highly-anticipated return to the Championship ended in disappointment as Rafa Benitez's team lost 1-0 to Fulham on Friday night.

Here are five things we learned as their bid for an instant return to the Premier League got off to a rocky start.

1. Promotion does not come easy in the Championship

Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez in action.

Only eight clubs in the last 10 years have managed to earn promotion straight back to the Premier League the season after suffering the drop.

Newcastle might have the money, the squad and seemingly the manager, but things never come easy in the Championship.

Here they might point to a couple of penalty decisions that never came, or a glaring miss from Matt Ritchie, but there are plenty of other clubs who can tell Newcastle this is exactly what they should expect this season.

2. The captaincy may have come too soon for Jamaal Lascelles

Jamaal Lascelles.

There was plenty of praise for Lascelles' attitude and leadership before kick-off, but the new Newcastle skipper was clearly at fault for Fulham's opening goal as he failed to get close to Matt Smith before the corner was taken, and could then only watch the striker head it beyond Matz Sels' reach.

He was then caught out again as Fulham almost doubled their lead just before the hour mark.

Lascelles is an impressive young character, but at 22 is the captaincy too big a responsibility given the level of expectation on Tyneside?

3. Newcastle's squad is not complete yet

Jonjo Shelvey.

Newcastle have invested heavily this summer and the strength of the squad was expressed by a team sheet on which Jonjo Shelvey and Rolando Aarons were only among the substitutes.

New signings like Mo Diame and Ciaran Clark are still to come as well, but once the match began it became apparent why Newcastle are still active in the transfer market as they lacked a creative spark.

4. London is not a happy place for the Magpies

Craven Cottage.

You can spend all the money you want, but some things never change - and Newcastle's fortunes in London are high on the list.

They have now won only one of their last 11 matches in the capital, and have lost six straight at Craven Cottage.

They are due back in London on September 13 to face QPR.

5. Newcastle fans are not easily put off

Rafael Benitez.

Benitez said the Newcastle support was a major factor in his decision to stay at the club despite relegation, and they showed why with a huge turnout of 7,000 for a Friday night fixture.

Whether or not their high expectations can be met over the course of the season remains to be seen.