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Rafa – This Player Has Been Fantastic Throughout The Season

We get a glimpse into why Rafa is such a very good man-manager and why his players would run through a brick wall for him – however painful that may be.


Rafa brought in Kenedy during January and let the Brazilian know he believed in him, and that did wonders for Kenedy’s confidence.

The 22-year-old was terrific for us on the left wing and worked his socks off for the team.

In the same way, Rafa has talked about Jonjo Shelvey this season, and this year he has behaved himself on the field and has been outstanding for Newcastle.

Jonjo Shelvey – been great for us this year

Jonjo ran the game for us against Chelsea on Sunday and was our Man of the Match.

But it does not seem that Jonjo will be playing for England in this summer’s World Cup in Russia with England manager Southgate not selecting him because of disciplinary concerns.

This is what Rafa Benitez has told BBC Spor about Jonjo:

“For me, the way that Jonjo has been playing, the things that he has been doing – he is different to the midfielders that England has already,”

“His behavior has been fantastic throughout the season. Some people say that: ‘Maybe it’s because of this. Or maybe it’s because of that.’”

“In terms of quality, I don’t have any doubt about his quality.”

“And, in terms of his behaviour, he has been fantastic during the whole season.”

Jonjo did pick up two red cards in the first half of the season, and they probably cost him his place in the England squad.

But England have nobody in midfield with Shelvey’s creativity or passing ability.

It would be silly if Southgate picks Jack Wilshire of Arsenal who has shown nothing this season.

But he was selected for Euro 2016 two years ago by Roy Hodgson having played very few games for Arsenal in the previous season.

If Southgate does that this time then he’s picking players on reputation – and that’s never a good thing.

Comments welcome.

15 comments so far

  • Jib

    May 15, 2018 at 10:48 AM

    Comment #1

    Southgate is your typical yes-man
    with the personality of a caterpillar.
    You cannot blame the old farts at
    the FA for giving him the job after
    the Sam Allardyce farce.
    He’s only going to pick squeaky clean
    players in his own mould.
    That doesn’t mean England have no
    chance in the WC.
    Germany have done OK in the same
    competition with pretty vapid teams.

  • lochinvar

    May 15, 2018 at 10:50 AM

    Comment #2

    England picked Rooney and made him Captain yet his disciplinary record on the pitch was awful, his temperament suspect and his personal life a tabloid dream date.

    The FA appointed Allardyce as Manager and looked what happened there.

    Southgate needs to pick the squad on current form, merit and potential to deliver results. Failure to do would suggest he’s being told what to do by someone in a bath chair. Shelvey goes if Southgate is man enough to pick the squad that England need.

  • Dagwoodz

    May 15, 2018 at 10:53 AM

    Comment #3

    The difference being, Jib, that the managers for Germany had quite a bit more tactical nous than Southgate. Don’t get me wrong, I hope they do well, and they very well could, (that’s why the games are played), but I don’t see it happening.

  • beefman13

    May 15, 2018 at 10:56 AM

    Comment #4

    England must go with Shelvey, of course they probably wont, but you have to have a game changer in your squad like jonjo, ukn hell, wilshire or loftus cheek the alternative, give me strength.

  • Ben Afri

    May 15, 2018 at 10:59 AM

    Comment #5

    @ Jib

    From previous post. Thanks mate. Just thought I missed it.

  • Neil

    May 15, 2018 at 11:00 AM

    Comment #6

    We all know Shelvey is better than some in the fold but personally I’d rather he stayed here, stayed fit and came back next season without having played in the world cup risking injury or worse still his price being bumped up for him to be sold.

  • Ben Afri

    May 15, 2018 at 11:02 AM

    Comment #7

    The unfortunate thing for Shelvey is that he seems to be the type of player who does better when his manager mentors him the way only people like Benitez does. So Southgate’s snub just makes me worry that the hurt might make Shelvey regress a little but I’m sure Rafa will be on top of that.

  • RobLeenio

    May 15, 2018 at 11:11 AM

    Comment #8

    Ben Afri, I think a couple of years ago you would have been right. Shelvey has grown up in the last season, he doesn’t seem bothered about recognition any more. In the past he used to be desperate to be involved in the game, leading to frustration and anger and him lashing out at opponents when he couldn’t dictate. Now he knows he can influence the game just by being in it, his confidence in himself is far higher and he’s way more content in his own skin. He’s been Rafa’d

  • Ben Afri

    May 15, 2018 at 11:15 AM

    Comment #9

    @ RobLeenio

    Your points certainly seem to be the truth as a lot of what you say was quite evident, especially with the way he first got into shape for the championship, and then after his red card at Spurs. He could have hung his head down low but he picked himself up and got on with it.
    “He’s been Rafa’d” I love it!

  • toonbrother

    May 15, 2018 at 12:09 PM

    Comment #10

    Well said Jib
    Just imagine shelvey supplying those excellent long range passes for vardy to run onto
    That would be devastating for any opposition
    Unfortunately it’s not in south gates self interest to take a “risk” playing a so called bad boy like shelvey
    Huge opportunity missed and sad for jonjo

  • RobLeenio

    May 15, 2018 at 12:17 PM

    Comment #11

    sad thing is, toonbrother, that even if Shelvey went, you likely wouldn’t see him and Vardy start even if that was objectively the best combination for England, because Southgate is very firmly in the golden boy Kane camp.

    Not that I have anything against Harry Kane, who is an excellent striker. It’s just the lack of interest in considering a Plan ‘B’ which is concerning to me.

  • Jib

    May 15, 2018 at 12:26 PM

    Comment #12

    Interest fact # 365823

    Rafael Benitez has managed both finalists
    in the CL final
    Javier Manquillo has played for both finalists
    in the Europa League final

  • Jib

    May 15, 2018 at 12:26 PM

    Comment #13

    Interesting even

  • toonbrother

    May 15, 2018 at 12:31 PM

    Comment #14

    @leenio completely agree
    What amazes me is how lukewarm the press have been towards shelvey
    Objectively speaking he is the closest thing to Pirlo since Xabi Alonso
    A deep lying playmaker of the highest order
    We should be celebrating having such a player in England because they are rare in world football let alone in Britain
    It shows There is so much bias in the media towards big 6
    Were he a Liverpool or ManU player I guarantee he would be the England first 11

  • RobLeenio

    May 15, 2018 at 12:38 PM

    Comment #15

    I think what lets Shelvey down are his stats. He regularly plays the defense splitting pass which enables the pacey guys to get on the end of it and play the killer ball into the area. Therefore as Shelvey is by that point 30 yards behind play, he isn’t credited with the assist even though he started the move. Because the balls are often out to the wings, they don’t even count as key passes. The only thing that would have convinced Southgate was if he bothered to turn up for a match at some point. It amazes me that an England manager can go a full season without visiting a Premier League ground at least once. Should be grounds for dismissal in my eyes.


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