Rafa Benitez addresses the coping without Jonjo Shelvey question
Jonjo Shelvey may still have refused to accept he was guilty of the misconduct charge but he felt he had little choice but to accept the punishment, his perception being that an appeal had no chance of success.
Rafa Benitez advised Shelvey to be more ‘mature’ in the future but both he and the club continued to support the player’s version of events.
However, now we get to the practical side of things, Newcastle playing without Jonjo Shelvey.
The playmaker has appeared in every single one of Newcastle’s Championship games, starting 20 and off the bench at both Fulham and Bristol City.
Sheffield Wednesday is the first challenge and Rafa Benitez has really just confirmed what we all already knew, Jonjo Shelvey is the one player that the United boss hasn’t got a direct replacement for.
Rafa says ‘we have to change something…’ and has indicated that it is likely to be the ‘system’ and/or ‘style’ of his team.
Many fans would love to see the Mitrovic/Gayle partnership given a chance, whilst with Jack Colback struggling to be available with an eye problem, that has probably removed the most obvious replacement. Even if Colback was available, he is a totally different type of player to Shelvey anyway.
Other options could be Vurnon Anita moved back into centre midfield of Mohamed Diame playing a more withdrawn role.
Whatever Rafa decides, his options/alternatives have all previously played in the Premier League and so there can be no excuses if they don’t cope with Jonjo Shelvey’s absence.
Rafa Benitez believes Sheffield Wednesday are more of a footballing side than others in the second tier, so hopefully that will also suit Newcastle’s style – time for other players to take a bit more responsibility in the playmaker’s absence.
“I think that the team is fine, to lose Jonjo Shelvey will be a problem but we still have enough options and different kind of players that maybe can do a job.
“We have to change something…maybe it is the system, maybe the style, but (hopefully) we can still play with a same intensity against Birmingham.
“The most important thing though is to be sure that this team is not just dependent on one player.
“We were analysing them (Sheffield Wednesday) and they’re well organised, have some pace and players with ability.
“They like to play and they like to pass the ball, some people think that the Championship is all long balls, second balls…no, you have a lot of teams that like a possession game and then other teams who like the direct approach.
“You have to cope and we are doing well at the moment, hopefully this can continue – Sheffield (Wednesday) have the players, the manager and the experience to know how to give any team a game.”
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