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.
“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.”