Rafa Benitez reveals the BIG change at Newcastle that he’s considering in wake of Jonjo Shelvey’s ban

Jonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey

Rafa Benitez is considering a change in system at Newcastle United in the absence of Jonjo Shelvey.

Shelvey will miss the club’s next five games through suspension after being found guilty of racially abusing an opponent.

Jonjo can dictate the tempo and control the game and we don’t have especially this kind of player.

Rafa Benitez

The midfielder – who had denied a Football Association charge of using racially-aggravated language towards Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Romain Saiss – was also fined £100,000 and ordered to take an education course.

Shelvey chose not to appeal the decision of the independent panel which heard the case.

And United manager Benitez is looking at how he can manage without Shelvey given that he does not have a like-for-like replacement.

Shelvey, 24, has been instrumental in the success of the Championship leaders – who take on Sheffield Wednesday at home on Boxing Day – so far this season.

Benitez said: “We have confidence in the team and the squad. We can use different players, and they can do well, but Jonjo can dictate the tempo and control the game and we don’t have especially this kind of player.

“In terms of what we need, we are trying to find player that can cope with this.

“We can use different players and we can change the system or formation.

“Or we can play another style of football with the same intensity and the same ideas. We have to find another way. If we have to play (Cheick) Tiote or (Jack) Colback or another one, it has to be different, as they can’t play like him.

“But the rest of the team can do more or less the same things.”

The Kick It Out campaign yesterday called on Shelvey and United to apologise to Saiss and Wolves “so that everyone can look forward to the remainder of the season.”

For his part, Benitez said: “We support him. For me, it was a confused situation.

“He knows he has to be careful and concentrate on his football.

“Strange things happen on the pitch. We continue to support him.

“We know he made a mistake, but it is very confusing.

“What we have to do is move on and think about the future.”