Rafa Benitez reveals what he told Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey before handing him a recall against Liverpool

Jonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey

Rafa Benitez told Jonjo Shelvey to back up his gift with graft on his return to the starting XI.

Shelvey yesterday made his first start since the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

And the midfielder set up Joselu’s equaliser in Newcastle’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool with a superb through ball.

The strike cancelled out a stunning opener from Philippe Coutinho.

Shelvey had had to wait for his chance after returning from a three-game ban for his dismissal against Tottenham Hotspur.

United manager Benitez recalled Shelvey in place of Isaac Hayden, who came off the bench late in the game.

“Jonjo has the quality on the ball,” said Benitez.

“I told him before the game ‘you know how to play football, you just have to work hard and keep your head focused on the game and you will play well’.

“If he works as hard as he did (against Liverpool), he will get more chances to play.

“That is the key for us as a team, to put the effort like we had to be competitive.”

Liverpool dominated the first half, but they were frustrated by some last-ditch defending from their hosts.

And Newcastle were better after the break.

Benitez’s side finished the game strongly, and substitute Mohamed Diame was denied in injury time by Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

“We talked at half time about the things we didn’t do well,” said Benitez.

“We talked about the things we needed to do well.

“We had seen the problems and we tried to finds the solutions.

“I think we did a lot better stopping them running, but we needed to do a little bit better on the ball.”

United are ninth in the Premier League table with seven games played.

Asked if he had seen an improvement from start of the season, Benitez said: “They are working very hard every day.

“They are improving every week, and we can see things are a little bit better, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.”