Why Jonjo Shelvey will be key to Newcastle’s prospects this season
Newcastle United’s summer transfer business was nothing short of a soap opera, with manager Rafa Benitez having to sell some of his players in order to bring in reinforcements to improve the squad. As a result, the Magpies haven’t really been able to bolster their squad with respect to last season, which might be a worry for the fans and the manager.
When the window was shut down, Benitez had the core of the squad which was there last season as well, meaning there are no improvements from the previous year.
Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has been a pivotal figure of the team for a few years now, and the onus is on him again to produce the goods in the midfield.
Even the manager would be hoping that the Englishman has a good season so that the inactivity in the transfer market doesn’t affect the chances of his team staying up in the Premier League.
With the way Newcastle play under Benitez, the midfield has to be solid without the ball and step up to support the attack whenever the opportunity arises.
Further, to start counter-attacks with quick long-range passing, midfielders like Shelvey have to be at their best and display the passing range to quickly turn defence into attack.
The 26-year-old has a key pass rate of 3.5 in the two games he has played, while the average was 1.4 during the course of last season in 30 appearances.
This indicates that he is quite good at creating goalscoring opportunities from deeper positions, something which Newcastle would need in abundance if they are to continue staying up in the league.
Benitez would have been a disappointed man knowing he has got close to nil backing from the board. Now the only thing left up his sleeve is to trust his key players and hope they deliver for one more season, as any flirtation with relegation battle would make it very toxic in the north-east.
So the Spaniard should make sure the likes of Shelvey are ready to deliver for the team on a regular basis. The whole of Newcastle would pin its hopes on the 26-year-old to be a potent threat from the midfield with accurate passing range.