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Benitez says Fulham loss was a wakeup call

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez says that the 1-0 loss to Fulham on Friday in their Championship opener is a stark reminder of how tough the league is.

The Magpies has seen some turnover of the squad during the summer after getting relegated from the Premier League, but they have invested £45 million to bring in new players to secure that they bounce straight back up. The campaign got off to a rocky start as Matt Smith headed in the lone goal of the game right before halftime.

“We have to realize it will be a tough competition – we have to be much better,” Benitez told Sky Sports.

“We didn’t play at the level we expected. We gave the ball away too easily and we conceded from a corner. After that we had some chances but we didn’t manage the game today.”

Newcastle had two penalty shouts in the game, that could have changed the game if they had been given.

“From the bench they seemed like they were both penalties, especially the first one,” Benitez said.

“But it was not given, but you can be disappointed but carry on. Maybe at the start of the season you’d expect more attention but we didn’t play at the level we have to play at, so we can’t complain about these things.”

Midfielder Matt Ritchie thinks the loss against Fulham might actually help the team in the long run.

“We are disappointed not to get off to a good start and a win but this league is tough,” Ritchie said.

“A lot of people have been saying that we should romp this league but I think that shows it will not be easy.

“Just because we are Newcastle United doesn’t mean we are going to turn up and win games. We have to win the right and tonight I thought Fulham were very good.

“We probably let them be better than we should have done – we didn’t quite press how we wanted to.

“It could be a blessing in disguise to make everyone realise that this league is actually very tough.

“We all know it’s going to be a long, tough season with a lot of games.

“Nothing changes though. It’s one game and we certainly weren’t going to go through the season unbeaten, not in this league, so we need to make sure we put things right against Huddersfield next Saturday.”

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