Rafa Benitez, like the Newcastle fans, will know just how good and how important the mercurial Jonjo Shelvey is to Newcastle United this season.
Since his return from his five game FA suspension, Newcastle won their second successive game with him in the side and took their goals tally up to seven, as the former Liverpool play-maker put in another excellent performance at home in those famous black and white stripes.
Jonjo has improved a lot this season under the expert guidance of the manager and Rafa has talked about how difficult it is for the opposition to mark him, with Newcastle having plenty of class in the side – like Matt Ritchie for example.
Jonjo Shelvey congratulates Matt Ritchie on Saturday
Rotherham tried to man-mark him out of the game but it wasn’t too successful.
Jonjo reminds us a lot of Steven Gerrard with those beautiful cross-field passes and if he can come anywhere near to the former England captain, we will have some player on our hands.
We already do.
This is how Rafa talked about how other teams may try to stop Shelvey:
“When you have a player with his quality, with his technical ability, he passes the ball precisely.”
“Sometimes you can put the ball in a certain place, but you need to be precise and he is the one who can give the right pace to the ball and the right direction.”
“Each one has his own tactics, he will be happy with what he was doing before, but once we score and if they stay focused on one player, then the others they can score.”
“Maybe you have to manage it in a different way, but maybe it is fine for them.”
“In the end football is eleven vs eleven, so that is the important thing.”
“You must remember that maybe if you stop him playing you will put the other team under pressure.”
“But still you have other players who can have the players who make the difference, like Ritchie did.”
Shelvey again controlled the game on Saturday and as long as this man stays fit we should do very well in our remaining games and get that automatic promotion that is job one, two and three this season.
But we’re simply not the same side with Jonjo not in the team.
The season ends in just over three months time and we probably need about 12 wins of the remaining 19 league games to get automatically promoted.
That would give us 94 points, even if we lose all the other games.