Miles Starforth’s match analysis: Newcastle United 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2

Newcastle Uniteds Ayoze Perez gets surrounded by the Wolves players.
Newcastle Uniteds Ayoze Perez gets surrounded by the Wolves players.
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You win some, you lose some.

That’s the Championship for you.

Four days after a record-equalling 6-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road, Newcastle United were beaten on home turf.

And they were well beaten at St James’s Park.

It’s going to be that kind of season.

And there will be many more downs, as well as ups, between now and the end of the campaign.

That’s not to say Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers should be just written off as one of those days.

United, third in the Championship table, can’t afford too many of those days this season.

The afternoon started badly and ended badly. Not much went right for Newcastle, who also had Vurnon Anita sent off in the dying minutes.

Wolves, beaten 4-0 themselves by Barnsley four days earlier, pressured and pressed Rafa Benitez’s side from the first whistle.

United just couldn’t get going.

Chances were few and far between, and they snatched at the opportunities that did come their way.

Pass after pass went astray, and time and again Wolves came back at them.

Just as it seemed Newcastle were getting some kind of foothold in the game, they went behind.

And the first goal scored past the club in 524 minutes came from the head of Chancel Mbemba, who headed Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s cross past a helpless Matz Sels.

There was an expectation of a half-time change at St James’s Park.

But Benitez – who had Aleksandar Mitrovic, Christian Atsu and DeAndre Yedlin on the bench – rarely changes his team at the break, and he resisted the urge to change his starting XI for the second half.

And Benitez’s team was 2-0 down by the time he made what turned out to be his only changes.

Ayoze Perez gave the ball away and Helder Costa squeezed the ball between Sels and his right-hand post in the 62nd minute.

Within a minute, Mitrovic and Atsu were on the pitch.

Mitrovic – who had a shot stopped by the legs of Carl Ikeme – was far from convincing after replacing Dwight Gayle, who had a frustrating afternoon up front.

Atsu replaced Matt Ritchie after the winger, booked earlier for dissent, was given a final warning by referee Tim Robinson.

Ritchie, at least, had ran himself into the ground.

The summer signing chased lost causes all over the pitch, but his workrate wasn’t matched by all of his team-mates.

There was also an inevitability about a dismissal as United looked in vain for openings against Walter Zenga’s organised and disciplined side.

Mohamed Diame – who struggled to make any kind of impact behind Gayle – could have been sent off for a late challenge on Matt Doherty before the break.

As it was, Vurnon Anita was sent off for a lunge at Ivan Cavaleiro which looked far worse than it was.

There were some boos at the final whistle.

Others hadn’t waited for Robinson to call time on a forgettable afternoon in the sunshine.

Many more left in silence after Wolves’ first away win at St James’s Park in 25 years was confirmed.

Long after the end, Wolves players were being applauded by the club’s 3,200 fans high up in the Leazes End.

There had been similar scenes at Loftus Road, though Newcastle’s supporters had been far closer to the pitch.

They got a good look at just how good Benitez’s new-look team could be this season.

The Wolves game showed us just how bad they can be too.

Was it Benitez’s changes? Should he have made changes at the break?

Those were two of the questions being asked by fans as they streamed out of the stadium.

Benitez had made three changes to the team which had played QPR off the park, and that was three too many in the eyes of some fans.

But there were few complaints during the club’s six-game winning run.

Benitez will change his team game by game, and there will be many more changes for tomorrow night’s third-round EFL Cup tie against Wolves at St James’s Park.

Daryl Murphy and Achraf Lazaar are expected to make their debuts in the cup.

And on this evidence, the pair could be playing in the Championship very soon.

Murphy offers Benitez an alternative to Mitrovic, while Lazaar will put pressure on Paul Dummett at left-back.

Dummett – who agreed a new long-term contract in May – must improve in the opposition half.

Benitez is looking for improvements all over the pitch.

The club’s manager can be ruthless – you don’t have the success he has had across Europe without being ruthless – and he won’t accept a repeat of this performance, both individually and collectively.