Gallowgate Shots: Midfield strength and guile can lead Newcastle United to title

Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey.
Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey.

Eleven games in to the Championship season and we can now see a clear game plan that manager Rafa Benitez expects from his team.

A cool and calm mentality is what is needed to remain in the cluster of teams challenging for the top spot.

Many of us expected to see a team that attacked constantly, breaking towards goal at every possible chance and running away with the league by Christmas, but that just isn’t the Rafa Benitez way.

Rather than a gung-ho attitude, the team is set up to control the game in midfield, staying patient as they attempt to slowly break down the opposition, preventing them from progressing past the half way line.

And with the rotation of Isaac Hayden, Jack Colback and Jonjo Shelvey, we have a trio that can easily achieve this.

Jonjo Shelvey is obviously the key figure in midfield for United.

From his renowned ‘Hollywood’ passes to his hard-hitting challenges, it’s clear that Benitez has placed a lot of trust in the midfielder and rightly so.

His two long range passes that left a handful of Norwich players gawping at the sky as Dwight Gayle netted a last minute winner last week, were an absolute joy to watch.

A masterclass in directness and precision from the middle of the park. He may well be the player that can lead us to lifting the Championship title at the end of the season.

Jack Colback also goes without being noticed at times, his performance against Rotherham was exactly what was needed in the game. He never stopped throughout.

By doing the ‘dirty work’ he freed up Jonjo Shelvey and prevented Rotherham from getting any real grasp of the game.

Many people don’t rate him, but at this level he is more than capable.

Isaac Hayden is the definition of ‘cool and calm’.

Coming from Arsenal there is no surprise that he is composed on the ball and makes it look effortless in the process.

A cool head in the centre of the park with a lot of future potential.

The three players above all have different attributes and each bring something new to whichever set-up Rafa Benitez opts for.

Competition amongst players is always a good thing and with all three fighting for a starting position it keeps them hungry for game time and determined to have their name on the team sheet.