A lot of debate surrounds Jonjo Shelvey.
Many fans wondering what the story is with the midfielder.
Despite the team struggling and on a run of six defeats and a draw in the last seven games, the talented midfielder has found himself on the bench the past three matches.
How can that be? We were all wondering how he didn’t make the England squad a few weeks ago…
Jonjo Shelvey definitely has ability but has he really showed it for Newcastle?
Yes he did well in the Championship but we could all have expected that as a given, the midfielder ending up with five goals and eight assists.
When you see though that Matt Ritchie got 12 goals and seven assists, you might wonder why Shelvey didn’t do even more in the second tier.
The fact remains that Newcastle have won only one game this season when the midfielder has started and that was Palace at home, relying on Merino scoring that late winner as a sub, after Shelvey and teammates had created nothing in the opening 85 minutes.
However, it is irrelevant what the fans think, only Rafa Benitez’ opinion counts.
With the United boss, you don’t have to look too far before you see why it maybe is no surprise to see Rafa leaving out Jonjo Shelvey.
When Rafa arrived in March 2016 at Newcastle, he kept things pretty much the same as they had been team-wise, having a look at what he had.
His first four games in charge were:
Leicester 1 Newcastle 0
Newcastle 1 Sunderland 1
Norwich 3 Newcastle 2
Southampton 3 Newcastle 1
Jonjo Shelvey started all four but was then dropped and never started another Premier League match that season.
Newcastle of course winning three and drawing three of the final six games to almost stay up, these included impressive draws against Liverpool (away ) and Man City, plus the final day demolition of Spurs.
Actually, that point after his first four matches was when Rafa Benitez appeared to have decided that he now recognised who he could and couldn’t rely on, not just with Shelvey.
Mitrovic started the first two, came off the bench and scored against Norwich, then started against Southampton, but then was dropped and didn’t make the team again until Spurs on the final day when there was nothing to play for.
Mitro hasn’t started a Premier League match since May 2016 and now we have Jonjo Shelvey having started only eight and maybe Rafa’s early impressions of Shelvey are resonating once again.
Really surprising actually to see just who did play in the final half dozen Premier League games of the last relegation season.
Rafa Benitez actually started with Jack Colback and Cheick Tiote ahead of Jonjo Shelvey, Shelvey a £13m big money/wage signing in the January who had been brought in to orchestrate a survival bid.
Colback and Tiote each played five of the final six games of the 2015/16 season. Colback then playing a minor role in the Championship effort, whilst Cheick Tiote was sidelined and allowed to go to China, only for then tragedy to hit.
I don’t think it is impossible for Jonjo Shelvey to get back in as first choice but I would say that there is a lot more doubt about it than most people would believe.
This three game run out of the team might end up not being only temporary, as I have the feeling Rafa Benitez may not be his biggest fan.
Maybe he will be used as an impact sub as was the case in the final 10 minutes at West Brom, does Jonjo Shelvey have the engine that Rafa needs in the middle of the pitch, and is he really doing enough to influence the play going forward?
Interesting to see what happens in these next three weeks before the transfer window opens and then depending on that, whether we may even see a surprise sale in January to free up soem transfer funds.