Rafa Benitez reveals why he took captaincy off Jonjo Shelvey – and handed it to Moussa Sissoko

Rafa Benitez gives direction to Moussa Sissoko
Rafa Benitez gives direction to Moussa Sissoko
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Rafa Benitez has revealed why he handed the captain’s armband to Moussa Sissoko.

Newcastle United’s manager dropped Jonjo Shelvey – who had been captaining the side in the absence through injury of Fabricio Coloccini – and made Sissoko skipper for Saturday’s game against Swansea City.

I wanted to give him some confidence. (He is) someone (that) has a lot of influence with French players, because they see him as a big name and a big player, so he’s been important for him and for us.

Rafa Benitez

Sissoko, an influential figure in the dressing room, scored in a 3-0 win over Benitez’s second-bottom side.

The decision to make Sissoko captain surprised fans given his poor form this season, and the France international could keep the armband, having “pleased” Benitez with his performance.

Asked if the 26-year-old would continue to lead his team, Benitez said: “We will see. I was really pleased for him.

“I wanted to give him some confidence. (He is) someone (that) has a lot of influence with French players, because they see him as a big name and a big player, so he’s been important for them and for us.

“I’m not too worried about that. We will consider it (longer-term captaincy), because he’s done very well.”

Asked about substitute Shelvey’s reaction to being left out, Benitez said: “I think he understood.

“We have to work as a team, and the main thing was the reaction when he came from the bench.

“He did well, and I’m pleased because in the end we won and he was positive.

“That’s what we have to do until the end of the season, so all the players have to give everything if they are involved.

“If not, they have to keep pushing and put me in trouble in terms of picking positions.”