Rafael Benitez has hailed the importance of Jonjo Shelvey’s 'precision' to Newcastle United as the midfielder made his first league appearance following his five-match ban.
The Magpies ran out 4-0 winners over Rotherham United at St James' Park on Saturday but it wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggests with the Millers creating some good chances throughout the first half.
Shelvey makes the difference
It was Shelvey’s quick thinking in first half injury time which created the break through Newcastle were looking for. The midfielder’s quick free-kick found DeAndre Yedlin who centred the ball for Daryl Murphy and the striker coolly curled the ball into the top corner of the net.
The goal allowed for a more open second half which the Magpies took full advantage of. Goals from Matt Ritchie and Ayoze Perez put the hosts 3-0 up on the hour mark before Shelvey released Ritchie for his second goal of the game and Newcastle’s fourth.
Speaking to ChronicleLive after the game Benitez said: “When you have a player with his [Shelvey's] quality, with his technical ability he passes the ball precisely."
The Spaniard added: "Sometimes you can put the ball in a certain place, but you need to be precise and he is the one who can give the right pace to the ball and the right direction.”
Rotherham's failed plan
Rotherham manager Paul Warne pinpointed Shelvey as United’s dangerman during the week and admitted after the game that he attempted to nullify the playmaker's impact by having one of his players man-mark the Newcastle man.
When asked about Rotherham’s plan Benitez said Warne would have been “happy” with what his side were doing before United scored. “If they stay focused on one player, then others can score” added the Spaniard.
The Newcastle manager finished by offering a word of advice to the Magpies’ future opponents. “You must remember that maybe if you stop him playing you will put the team under pressure, but still there is other players who can make the difference, like Ritchie did.”