Jonjo Shelvey was one of five changes that Rafa Benitez made to his team that had lost 3-0 to Watford on Saturday.

A vital match at West Brom and a big call for the Newcastle boss to make, the widespread changes sure to come in for major criticism/analysis if it all went wrong.

With the Baggies at 2-0 up it looked disastrous, even at 2-1 it appeared to have backfired, whilst the equaliser on 83 minutes saved the day/point and Newcastle almost won it in the end.

If you are glass half full then you will be thinking a great fightback but if you are of the other persuasion then no doubt you will wonder if a different team had started, then would Newcastle have the match?

Jonjo Shelvey encapsulated that and Tony Cottee says that ‘If Jonjo Shelvey is fit he should play’.

The Sky Sports pundit impressed with what he saw once Shelvey came off the bench with around 15 minutes to go including injury time.

Cottee adding ‘He gets in that midfield, he strolls around, he has got a fantastic range of passing and he was involved in everything going forward (in the final stages). Newcastle looked a better team with him in that side.’

So is Tony Cottee right and Rafa Benitez wrong, when it came to Shelvey being left out.

Obviously the midfielder has got ability but like the rest of the players recently, he hasn’t been great. After the Watford match, nobody could really have complained if they’d been dropped at The Hawthorns.

Obviously, we will never know what would have happened if Jonjo Shelvey (and others) had started against West Brom, though you would hope that whatever team Rafa had put out they wouldn’t have lost to a poor Baggies side who hadn’t won a game in over three months.

We’ll never know if Newcastle would have not been behind if Shelvey had started but likewise, if he had been selected, would he have been able to make such a difference as an impact sub at the end against a tired opposition, helping to inspire the equaliser and Newcastle to almost win it at the end?

Like all other managers Rafa Benitez will be judged on results in the final analysis (within the limitations of whoever owns Newcastle United) and last night was neither a win or a defeat for him and the team. A draw leaves everybody wondering if they are right….or wrong.

Interesting to see how Rafa sets his team up at Chelsea, I’m sure Jonjo Shelvey will be back in the team, but will it be at the expense of Isaac Hayden or Ayoze Perez?

Tony Cottee talking to Sky Sports:

“Jonjo Shelvey came on in the 79th minute.

“I haven’t followed Newcastle enough to know whether he’s been injured, whether he is out of favour, whether his performances have been bad.

“I know he got sent off at the start of the season.

“But for me, if Jonjo Shelvey is fit he should play.

“He gets in that midfield, he strolls around, he has got a fantastic range of passing and he was involved in everything going forward (in the final stages).

“Newcastle looked a better team with him in that side.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

West Brom 2 Newcastle 2


Newcastle: Clark 59, Evans (OG) 83

West Brom: Robson-Kanu 45+1, Field 56

Possession was West Brom 48% Newcastle 52%

Total shots were  West Brom 8 Newcastle 14

Shots on target were West Brom 4 Newcastle 4

Corners were  West Brom 1 Newcastle 6

Referee: Lee Probert

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lejeune, Mbemba, Ritchie, Hayden (Shelvey 80), Merino, Murphy (Aarons 64), Perez, Joselu (Mitrovic 73)

Unused Subs:

Elliot, Manquillo, Gayle, Diame

Crowd: 25,534 (Newcastle 2,600)

(Read what Rafa Benitez said after the 2-2 draw HERE)

(Gary Megson refuses to give Newcastle any credit for fightback – Read HERE)

(Read the reaction from NUFC fans/writer to the West Brom match HERE)

(Alan Shearer ‘Feared the worst’ – Read HERE

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  • TheNutJob

    Jonjo`s the best player at the Toon & he sits on the bench as the worst player is on the pitch. makes you wonder if Rafael is losing his marbles.
    he`s bought some right old stinkers, hasn`t he

  • Toon Fan

    Shelvey wasn’t great against watford but we don’t have the luxury of leaving him out as – Merino aside – he has much more quality than anyone else in the centre of the park. Rafa likes his players to follow instructions and to play to his system, but sometimes i think you’ve just got to go with your most talented players. It’s no good following instructions and sticking to a system if your players aren’t good enough to carry it out. Shelvey epitomises this for me. Sometimes he can be frustrating but he’s the best chance we have of creating something. He has to play for me, along with Merino, Mbemba, Mitro and/or Gayle. Not sure what Joselu does in training but he contributes nothing in games. we look much stronger when he’s not on the pitch.

  • MadMag83

    I imagine that with us playing a fair few games over the coming weeks, it was partly due to squad rotation, as much as it was about dropping people after the Watford debacle. That said, he’s yet to rotate Joselu…..

  • TheFatController

    Surely, when not rotating, we should find a system that accommodates Hayden, merino and shelvey? They can all chip in with a goal which is needed from MF, can pass and break up play to varying degrees but they compliment each other fairly well.

    Maybe change 4-4-1-1 to 4-3-3 given we don’t have an effective no 10? Or at Chelsea a deeper 4-5-1 of course.

    I can’t see the point of any of them being on the bench if fit given the current squad limitations.

  • BillytheFish

    Agree, when and only when he is in form, however that is not consistent enough for a top player and I expect Rafa to replace him if he gets the funds..

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    We have three games in a week the one good thing Rafa does is mixes things up and give players a rest. His subs are to late and wrong but apart from that a great manager. Will get at least a draw on Saturday . We can give any one a game on our day not seen a team we could not beat this season however yet to play Man City.