Many Newcastle fans have talked about wanting to see Jonjo Shelvey used in a more advanced role.

Whilst Ayoze Perez has started all eight Premier League matches so far, behind the main striker, it is fair to say the majority of fans see this position as the biggest weakness in the team.

Last season Rafa Benitez wasn’t convinced and alternated Perez and Mohamed Diame in the role in the Championship – but after a lack of backing from Mike Ashley, it left Rafa Benitez unable to bring in a desperately needed new number 10 in the summer.

Newcastle have been left with a very unbalanced squad in certain positions.

Most supporters would be comfortable with any pairing from the four centre-backs, whilst the club are still looking for a left-back who can get up and down the pitch like Yedlin does on the other side.

Similarly, Rafa now has three very good options in the middle of the pitch with Merino, Shelvey and Hayden appearing to be fighting over only two spots. This contrasts with the situation up top, where only a £5m investment was made, leaving Rafa relying currently on Joselu and Perez – both trying their best but below the quality behind them in midfield.

Whilst Rafa Benitez will never bow to the popular fan wish of playing two strikers, Sunday saw maybe the first indication he could consider changing his formation to get as many of his best players on the pitch as possible.

Despite having scored his first goal of the season, Ayoze Perez was the first to be subbed and Mikel Merino come on against Southampton for the final half hour.

Newcastle looked arguably a far better attacking formation from that point, with Jonjo Shelvey having a more free role higher up the pitch, as Hayden and Merino played behind him.

Matt Ritchie was impressed with how the whole team did at St Mary’s but gave special mention to Jonjo Shelvey, saying ‘Jonjo played in more of a number 10 role in the second-half and I thought that worked really well’.

The winger believing that Newcastle finished the game strongly on the attack, with Shelvey a key part of that in a more advanced role.

If nothing else, it gives Rafa Benitez another option to think about, in what is his biggest problem area.

Matt Ritchie:

“We always have an ambition to attack and when you are playing away from home, there’ll always be a time when the game opens up, and we’ve shown we can take advantage of that.

“We need to continue to build and to get better in what we have been doing. If we do that, I’m sure the results will come.

“We’ve shown this season that we’ve got goals right through the team and the two lads who scored at the weekend were getting their first goals of the season, great to see everybody chipping in.

“That’s what we need, goals and assists from everywhere, and if you’re getting that from all over the pitch it can only be a good thing.

“I think we looked dangerous at times, and especially at the end, there were real positives with the way we were getting up the pitch.

“Jonjo played in more of a number 10 role in the second-half and I thought that worked really well.

“Togetherness is the key for us. We’re not going to be a team with superstars, it’s about the team as a collective.

“Everybody has to be together, there are 25 in the squad and we’re all going to have to contribute. need to continue fighting.

“We’ve come away from Southampton a bit disappointed not to have taken the three points and that’s a positive thing.

“We know it’s a tough league but we’ve got a good squad with good players.

“We’ve said right through this season that togetherness is key. We showed that in abundance again at Southampton with the way we got across the pitch, and shuffled across in our units to close off any gaps.

“We frustrated them, and although we tired a bit in the second half, I still think it was a really good performance.”

  • Paul Patterson

    Certainly hope it happens more often..

    • Clarko

      Well it won’t cretin.

      • Paul Patterson

        Insults for making an opinion?
        Really? Get a grip of yourself.

        • Clarko

          Shut up

          • pedrodelgardo

            Howay Clarko insult me too please…..

          • Mark Spark

            lol.hes done three on this thread already,lets see if he can do a full house

          • Clarko

            Shut up morons. When you can be original, get back to me.

      • Derek

        The only cretin here is you Clarko.

        • Clarko

          F*ck off

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Rafa has a slight fault, he`s stubborn & chances are Perez will retain the Number 10 role on Saturday
    God knows what we`ll do for a striker Joselu just isn`t up to the job, Gayle`s injured so maybe it`s time to play Mitro

    • Wor Lass

      If he won`t play Mitro and Gayle`s gimped out again then he could push Perez up top and keep Jonjo at no 10. Jonjo may be brilliant with the ball but he can`t close down the opposition like Perez so it would be up to Merino to show he`s good enough defensively to compensate for Perez being further forward. I`m just not sure that would keep the balance of the team – something Rafa seems very mindful of. On a side note, Ritchie`s work rate and the example he sets to the rest of the team is phenomenal.

      • Mark Spark

        my point exactly,but put much better

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        Perez has 1 decent game in 9, work that out

        • Wor Lass

          Aw, come on – he was good against Stoke as well! Plus, I did say if he won`t play Mitro. I don`t mind him persevering with Perez – at least it keeps SloMo out of the team.

    • Clarko

      What would you know dipsh*t?

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        I know you’re an idiot

      • Derek

        You need to settle down you like!

        • Clarko

          Make me, idiot.

  • Peaky Magpie

    Shelvey,Merino & Hayden to all start when fit.If that means Shelvey or Merino at Number 10 so be it,they could even rotate.I know Perez has been asked to do a job but even though he gives 100% and loves the club he’s just not good enough I’m afraid,as I’ve said before he’s too lightweight.

  • Mark Spark

    Rafa is stubborn?Yes,but dont you think he plays Perez because he believes it gives him the best chance of getting the result he wants.And other formations give him less of a chance?Fair enough if you disagree but to claim Rafa would harm the team because he wants to be prove right doesnt make any sense to me.

    • Clarko

      Shut up.

      • Mark Spark


      • Mark Spark


      • Mark Spark

        Your usual charming self,full of interesting insight as well

        • Clarko

          Pi$$ off

  • Mark Spark

    I always hope the team can be better,but Rafa has been here a while now and has never really played shelvey up there,he must of considered it and decided not

  • steve pearce

    Leave Jonjo where he is to provide those supernatural passes but Merino in at number 10. However I thought Perez was excellent on Sunday scoring from the rebound at a tight angle and his work rate was immense.I like many of you have knocked him in the past but against Southampton he showed real talent. I think he was subbed to keep him hungry and we shall all have to wait and see if he can find the consistency he needs to justify him remaining in that position.

    • Rich Lawson

      I’ve been critical of him too but I thought he actually put some graft in on Sunday,tackling back,harassing opponents and took his goal well.

  • Mumbles

    Not until the tenth paragraph do you get to the story! So much for valuing your readers’ time!