What's gone wrong at Newcastle United so far this season?

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez

Newcastle United's desperate 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Huddersfield Town should be a wake up to all at the club, not just Rafael Benitez.

General view outside St James' ParkGeneral view outside St James' Park

They secured the services of the man they desperately wanted in Benitez, positive activity in the transfer window and had 50,000 Geordies packed into St. James' Park. A win was expected, right?

Huddersfield Town are a club with proud history but cannot command a similar fanbase or pulling power. Yet they came to St. James' and conquered the favourites to win the Championship, let alone gain promotion.

With two games played and two defeats, what's gone wrong for The Magpies?

Can the players deal with the pressure?
They are the biggest scalp in the division along with Aston Villa, but can they cope with having the tag? If basing it on the two opening games, it's a no and after the performance on Saturday it's clear to see that sides will relish and make the most of playing at a packed St. James' Park. 

Huddersfield don't possess the quality that Rafa Benitez has at his disposal, however it showed that teams in the Championship will have their tails up when they go to Newcastle, and it's a problem Benitez will have to solve.

It can be difficult going from Premier League whipping boys, losing most weeks to be the team that is inflicting those defeats in a matter of months. A mentality change is evident with many still looking as if they were playing for the Premier League Newcastle, no confidence, low in morale and still coming to grips with what is expected from a very tactical Benitez.

Call for concern? It's a mere two games into a new season so supporters shouldn't be at panic stations just yet however it's crucial they rectify the issue before it's too little too late. 

Problems at both ends of the pitch
Defensively they have been suspect with Jamaal Lascelles appearing anything but safe since being presented with the skipper’s armband. He gave away the winner at Fulham and was conspicuous by his absence when Huddersfield scored twice in his territory while Mbemba was bullied in the lead up to the deciding goal. 

At the age of 22, questions have to be raised as to whether it was a wise decision to name Lascelles as captain. No doubt he's still developing after only breaking into the side under Benitez, you would wonder if he's still finding his feet still in a Newcastle shirt, and was not a regular at Nottingham Forest the previous campaign.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles during training

Countless times during the game at the weekend their were moments of indecisive defending, and it has a knock on effect on the players, supporters and managers confidence. You start to wonder when the next mistake will happen. The former Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli and Real Madrid manager has to set the foundation defensively, and if they keep conceding sloppy goals, they don't stand a hope.

At the other end it seems to be the same case, Dwight Gayle for his pedigree at Crystal Palace and his spell at Peterborough United, will score goals however with his slight build and style of play, it looks as though you will get the best out of the forward by him playing off someone. 

Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle scores their first goalNewcastle United's Dwight Gayle scores their first goal

With his pace, power and eye for goal he should be a success at Newcastle but if Benitez can find someone who is happy to play deeper and link up from midfield into the final third, it could be the key component in getting the best out of Gayle.

Is Benitez still experimenting?
It's a long old season but Benitez's rotation would show that he is still unsure as to what his best eleven actually is. He's been renowned for consistency in his style of play, team shape and selection however it's been anything but just yet. 

Jack Colback, Ayoze Perez and new summer signing Grant Hanley were all dropped while Rolando Aarons was substituted at half-time. Especially in the defence it's crucial that you have a settled and stable back line. Swapping and changing centre backs game by game will not help. 

Huddersfield were efficient and got the job done. They rode their luck at times in the latter stages but did Newcastle really carve open the defence enough times to suggest a goal was forthcoming? Swapping midfielders over and over again won't help gain an understanding between each other, he has to stick with what he has and show some faith.

It's only two games but this isn't what Benitez had in mind when he pledged his future to The Magpies. His side must show character in what is set to be a tough next eight fixtures with the likes of Brighton, Derby County, QPR, and Norwich City all to come.

Newcastle United manager Rafael BenitezNewcastle United manager Rafael Benitez

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