Saturday was always going to be a tricky match for both Rafa Benitez and Jonjo Shelvey.
A case of going in there, getting the job done, hopefully coming out with three points.
A tricky opponent who had recently beaten both Stoke and Liverpool, then the whole backdrop of what had (or hadn’t…) happened at St James Park and subsequent FA tribunal decision.
The Wolves fans were always going to give Jonjo Shelvey stick and the Wolves players were always going to give an energetic performance and make life difficult for the visitors, plus potentially target Shelvey for revenge.
As it played out, the home team didn’t really target Shelvey at all in terms of possible retribution for their allegedly wronged teammate.
The Newcastle playmaker had a relatively ineffective match and was quiet/subdued, whether this was at least in part down to the identity of the opposition, who knows?
Yes the Wolves supporters targeted Shelvey but it wasn’t anything more/worse than you would have expected.
Was it over the top? Standing amongst the Newcastle fans I didn’t really feel that anybody was outraged on our midfielder’s behalf.
Rafa Benitez has came out after the match and praised Jonjo Shelvey for the way he handled the occasion, which is all good stuff.
However, the United boss has also claimed that the FA should be taking action and attempt to ‘control what the fans say in every stadium’.
I’ll leave the argument for another day that today’s stadiums are too sanitised already, too much control over supporters in terms of standing and/or making an atmosphere, without any need for more.
Anyway, my main point is that Rafa has called this one wrong.
Whether he is convinced or not that Shelvey was wrongly found guilty, that is gone, the FA tribunal decided that he had overstepped the mark and the Newcastle player served his suspension.
Wolves fans were always going to have a go at this match but why look to keep the subject alive?
Rafa’s players came away with the three points, are very much in line for promotion, which if it happens means the odds are very much stacked against Newcastle ever playing Wolves again with Jonjo Shelvey in the team.
They look in no likelihood of promotion in the near future and so it is simply the small chance of a cup meeting and even that is a toss of the coin on whether it would mean another trip to Molineux. Plus the fact that it is weakened teams as a routine, so Shelvey wouldn’t even necessarily be playing.
At least in a small way Rafa Benitez has ensured the Jonjo Shelvey issues will be continued to be discussed today, which I don’t think is really of any use to anybody. Plus of course, how exactly would the FA ‘control’ crowds?
“It was not an easy game for him (Jonjo Shelvey) but I think he did well.
“The team was working hard and he showed composure and a cool mind to play and to keep the ball.
“He did a good job for the team.
“He is a professional and he knows you have to concentrate on the game.
“Yes, we knew what was going to happen but one thing the FA has to maybe consider is what the fans say.
“Maybe, to control what the fans say in every stadium and then they have more respect.”