Losing start ends all hope of automatic promotion for Newcastle

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There hasn’t been much in the way of good news since Newcastle began their campaign as red-hot Championship favourites.

Defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage made it a bad start in front of the Sky Sports cameras, as Matt Smith scored the only goal of the game.

Then, last time out, Huddersfield visited St James’ Park and sent the Magpies crashing to their first home league loss in the second tier since 1992.

It leaves Rafa Benitez’s side six points off the pace at the top of the division, and only out of the relegation places on goal difference.

In a bid to remain calm, many may view the first two games of a 46-outing marathon as less than important in the grand scheme of things. However, history suggests those losses are already enough to rule Newcastle out of the race for automatic promotion.

Since the 2009/10 season – when the north-east outfit last occupied the second tier – three teams have gone straight back up by finishing in the first two. None of them, Newcastle included, lost more than once in their first five league games.

The most recent side to achieve the feat was Burnley last term. Sean Dyche’s men won two and drew two of their opening five games, losing the other match to Ipswich in their third appearance of the season.

Before that it was the Magpies and West Brom who were the immediate returners to the top-flight, finishing first and second respectively after being relegated the following year.

Neither side lost in their first five matches in the 2009/10 Championship campaign, with Newcastle winning four times and the Baggies claiming three victories.

As a further mark of doom for the current crop of Geordies, only one team from the sample size lost the first two matches after being relegated.

Fulham did so two terms ago and actually went winless in their first five, picking up one solitary point in that time before finishing the season in 17th.

Benitez’s men will look to get off to winning ways against Reading at home on Wednesday and are priced up at 4/6 to end their slump.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.