Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham City saw a change in tactics for Newcastle United and captain Jamaal Lascelles has revealed that the squad “trust” manager Rafael Benitez with whatever formation he plays.
The Magpies boss is well known for setting teams out to build from a strong defence and it has been no different so far during his tenure on Tyneside.
Possession is evidently key in the eyes of Benitez, who drills his teams to pass their way through the opposition. This has led to United racing into a comfortable lead more often than not this campaign.
However, in the absence of Jonjo Shelvey, the Spaniard's Newcastle side have struggled to break teams down and create clear cut chances in front of goal.
Shelvey’s return from a ban will certainly help open up opposition defences, but this didn’t stop Benitez trying out a different formation in the FA Cup game on Saturday.
United started the game in a 3-5-2 formation, a set-up Lascelles said the team only had a few days to work on following their defeat at Blackburn Rovers.
The manager admitted after the game that he was happy with how it worked despite late pressure - which Benitez put down to lack of game time for some of his players.
“We’re going to trust Rafa Benitez whatever formation he tells us to play,” revealed Lascelles. “We only had a few days to work on it.”
The 23-year-old thought the players who haven’t featured much for the side this season “done a great job.”
He added: “We did start off really well but we knew it would be really tough, they are physical and big on second balls – we know how to play against them.”
The Newcastle centre-back added that the squad would be working on their “strengths and weaknesses” during the week and that they “look forward to playing them [Birmingham]” in the replay at St James’ Park.