Five things we learned from Fulham v Newcastle

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez speaks to players

Fulham defeated Newcastle in the opening night of the Championship, as Rafael Benitez's side failed to live up to the billing as bookies' favourite.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez speaks to players

Newcastle fell to a shock 1-0 defeat to Fulham on the opening night of the Championship.

Matt Smith's header on the stroke of half time was enough to separate the two sides, as the bookies favourites failed to live up to the hype.

Fulham's Matt Smith scores their first goal

Newcastle had two penalty appeals turned down by referee Simon Hooper, but failed to create enough chances as they struggled to break down a stubborn Fulham defence.

As the Magpies come to terms with what is set to be a tough season in the Championship, here are five things we learned from Fulham vs Newcastle:

Newcastle need to toughen up

Newcastle's Matt Ritchie and Isaac Hayden with referee Simon Hooper

Although it has been said so much it has become cliche, the Championship is a much more physical league than the Premier League. On more than one occasion, Fulham were too tough for the Geordies and gave them a rough introduction to the second tier of English football.

Matt Smith gave Jamaal Lascelles a testing first appearance as Newcastle captain, and the two Fulham centre backs dominated in the air against Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez. Spaniard Perez needs to toughen up if he is going to be a success this season after being pushed off the ball too easily and far too often at Craven Cottage.

Fulham can go far this season with investment

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic

Despite being the underdogs, Fulham came out worthy winners against Newcastle and played some good football in the process.

The Cottagers midfield dominated proceedings, and Sone Aluko was a constant thorn in Rafael Benitez's side, constantly finding space in between Newcastle's midfield and defence.

Although Smith did score, Fulham missed the craft that Ross McCormack possesses. Manager Jokanovic must reinvest the £12 million in attack if they are to challenge for promotion this season.

Newcastle already have a replacement for Tiote

Arsenal's Isaac Hayden

On what was a poor night for Newcastle, one man stood out. That man was new signing Isaac Hayden, who started in midfield alongside Jack Colback.

The former Arsenal man outshone his teammate, constantly breaking up play and showing a willingness to get on the ball. Hayden's ability to win the ball back was reminiscent of Cheick Tiote, who could still exit St James' Park before the transfer window closes.

Benitez still needs more signings

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez speaks to players

Despite signing eight first team players and spending more than £40 million, Newcastle still need to continue their recruitment drive.

Newcastle lacked the creativity needed in midfield, with only Matt Ritchie looking anything close to a threat.

The combination of Colback and Hayden did nothing to hurt Fulham, and Vurnon Anita offered very little out wide.

The addition of Diame could help the problems in the middle of the park, but Benitez will hope to add another wide player to his squad.

We are set for another unpredictable Championship season

Matt Smith celebrates after scoring the second goal for Fulham

Before kick-off, everything pointed at a Newcastle win on Friday.

Followers of the division, however, will know that the Championship is very unpredictable. 24th can beat first and it would not be a shock. By no means are Fulham expected to finish last this season, but you would have been surprised had you seen Jokanovic's side on anyone's list of promotion candidates.

The Magpies failed their first test of the season, and have 45 more before they can celebrate a potential return to the Premier League.

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