The Chronicle has interviewed Rafa Benitez about why Jonjo Shelvey has not started the last two games and the manager has given a rather terse response.
In the old days if we paid a big fee for a player he would start in every game even if he was obviously off form and even if he was carrying a slight injury.
There was no real competition for places in the side so the top players knew they would play in every game.
That’s definitely not the case with Rafa Benitez who has taken the opportunity to tell fans and players alike how he picks the side.
Jonjo Shelvey – in action against his former club Liverpool
This is what Rafa said:
“The same reason why, when I pick him, he makes the team; he is a good player, sometimes he can be there, sometimes he cannot be there.”
“But it is exactly the same with Isaac Hayden or with Mikel Merino or with Jamaal Lascelles, or with anyone.”
“For me, some players could be different in terms of the quality that they have, but still all of them – they will be important at different parts of the season.”
“Maybe some of them will be more important during the whole season, maybe some of them just part of the season.”
“I don’t know if he’s better in goal than the ‘keepers.””It depends on the position,”
“I don’t know if he is better in front of goal than Dwight Gayle, so it depends on the position.”
“Is he an important player for us? Yes. But he has to compete just like everybody is competing now, and it is the only way for us to succeed.”
“No, discipline is not really an issue for Shelvey. At the moment I think he made one mistake (his red card against Spurs), and then afterward he was in control.”
“So hopefully he can be more mature and manage more.”
Rafa wants all his players at the club to understand if they play for the first team they had better play up to their abilities otherwise they could be left out of the next game.
Rafa is relying heavily on competition for places at the moment to help lift Newcastle up the table.
That’s why it’s good that Paul Dummett, Jamaal Lascelles, and Christian Atsu are now fit again.