Rafa Benitez reveals what’s changed with Jonjo Shelvey at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez says Jonjo Shelvey’s maturing on the pitch for Newcastle United – and letting his feet do his talking.

Shelvey put in a superb performance in Sunday’s 1-0 over Manchester United.

The midfielder had a hand in Matt Ritchie’s goal and also made an important defensive contribution.

Shelvey and team-mate Mohamed Diame dominated the midfield and saw off Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, who were both taken off by Jose Mourinho.

Newcastle manager Benitez feels that Shelvey is no longer in such a “rush” with the ball at his feet.

Asked about Shelvey’s performance, Benitez said: “It was really good.

Jonjo Shelvey in action against Manchester United.

Jonjo Shelvey in action against Manchester United.

“I think he knew what to do with the ball sometimes that in the past he was in a little bit of a rush, and now (he’s) much better.

“The team was also helping, because of the movement and the support from his team-mates was very good.

“He’s someone with quality that he can pass and can keep the ball and he can make the difference with one pass.”

Shelvey, outstanding in the first half of Newcastle’s Championship-winning season, has been sent off twice this season.

I think he knew what to do with the ball sometimes that in the past he was in a little bit of a rush, and now (he’s) much better.

Rafa Benitez

The interview-shy player spoke to the club’s matchday programme ahead of the Man United game.

And Shelvey, signed from Swansea City in January 2016, insisted the “penny had dropped” about what he could and couldn’t do on the field.

“The penny’s sort of dropped now with me,” said the 25-year-old.

“I know what’s right and wrong, on and off the pitch, and I know what you can and can’t do.

“I’m just trying to stick by that every day. It’s probably taken a lot longer than what it should do to sink in, but I feel like I’m at that stage now.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Under-23s qualified for the knockout stages of the Premier League Cup yesterday after drawing 1-1 against Swansea City at Landore.