Rafa Benitez has said a number of times that we could be even better off than we are at the moment with 14 points from our first nine games.
One of the games we could have done better in was the first game of the season when we were doing well into the second half against Tottenham when Jonjo Shelvey got himself sent off, and we ended up losing the game 2-0.
We could have even won that game if we had kept 11 men on the field.
After that game, Rafa was frustrated we hadn’t done better and annoyed at Shelvey, who has been a bit of a loose cannon in his career.
But Shelvey today has said the next day Rafa had a talk with him about how that kind of behavior can be prevented in the future.
Jonjo Shelvey – brilliantly managed by Rafa Benitez
This is what Jonjo said on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, and initially, he’s referring to when Rafa had the private talk with him after the Tottenham game:
“It was the turning point in the season for me as I knew how I felt after that Tottenham game, I did not really want to play football to be honest,”
“I locked myself in my room because I did not want to speak to anyone, including my family.”
“I just switched my phone off and turned my TV off and that was me for the rest of the night.”
“But then you get that feeling after the Liverpool game where you are buzzing because you played well and assisted the goal.”
“There are going to be ups and downs in football, you just have to make sure there are more ups than downs.”
“My dad gave me a telling-off after the game. And I would not come out of the changing rooms until we left to go home because I felt that bad and that I had let everyone down, which I had.”
“But the main people that I had to get back onside were my manager, my team-mates and the supporters of the football club.”
“That is my aim and that is what I am going to try and do.”
“I sent Rafa a text after the game when I was on my way home really apologizing. The next day I came in and we had a little chat and it was forgotten about.”
“I said I was going to work my socks off to regain your and the club’s trust. And that is what I am working towards still.”
“He had a go at me after the Tottenham game, which was right to be honest. It was a stupid mistake and we have now drawn a line under it.
“I feel like the last four or five games, I have come back in a totally different mind-set.”
“I know for a fact that had I not come back with a different mind-set, then my career would probably only go one way and I did not want that.”
“I feel that the last five or six games, teams do try and provoke you because they know they may get a reaction out of you.”
“And it has happened the last five or six weeks, but I just seem to block it out. So fingers crossed, it keeps happening.”
Rafa, of course, is a very experienced manager who has managed many players – many world-class players.
Just in case we haven’t said this before – Newcastle United FC are now realizing the vast benefits of having Mr. Benetiz as the Newcastle manager.
Long may it all continue.
With Southampton drawing 1-1 at Brighton today we remain in 8th place in the league table and can move up to 6th place with a win at Burnley tomorrow night.
If we draw we move up to 7th place and drop one place to 9th place if we lose with Burnley moving above us.