When Rafa first arrived at Newcastle last May, Jonjo Shelvey had just been signed a couple of months previously for £12M from Swansea.
And after a few games Rafa dropped Jonjo and the former Liverpool player was interviewed in the local papers shortly after that.
He said Rafa had been great for Newcastle and everybody was arriving for training with a smile on their faces.
Jonjo Shelvey and Rafa Benitez in training
So we thought this from a player who has just been dropped – Rafa must be some man manager.
But it’s obvious that Shelvey really respects Rafa and what the manager tells him to do.
And apart from a few lapses in discipline this season Jonjo has been great for us and his ability is there for all to see.
Rafa has talked about the player he signed as an 18 year old for Liverpool in the summer of 2010 and said he still has things to learn and must improve his discipline on the pitch.
This is what Rafa has said in the Shields Gazette today:
“The best thing Jonjo can do is concentrate on his football,” “We have been talking about that.”
“He’s a very good player that has to grow in terms of being more mature and being more focused on what he can do on the pitch.”
“It’s easy to see teams marking him man-to-man and trying to get him out of the game.” “He has to grow and he has to learn.”
“It’s a question of time.” “He has a lot of challenges now.” “He will improve and be a better player.”
“I think the Championship will prove to be really important for his future. “He has a lot of different situations, and he has to cope with them.”
“I think it will be important for him at another level when he will have similar problems.” “It’s a really good experience for him.”
“I will say that from the beginning of the season, also from last season, little by little, he has been learning and improving.”
“I think he is a good player, and there are not too many players of Jonjo’s level around.”
Jonjo has been a key player for us this season and when he was suspended for those five games, we really missed his creativity and wide range of passing and won only two of the games.
Let’s hope he can stay disciplined and fit for the rest of the season, because if he can do that it will greatly help our promotion push.