It’s been a long night of celebration for the Newcastle United fans propping up the bar in the Transfer Tavern as they watched their beloved Toon Army finally end their FA Cup hoodoo and progress through the 3rd round for the first time in five years.
Crucial to their progression last night was the returning Jonjo Shelvey, whose masterful passing range had a hand in all three of the Magpies’ goals at they ran out 3-1 winners against Championship rivals Birmingham City. While the 24-year-old’s return from an FA ban is obviously a monumental boost for Rafa Benitez amid his promotion push, the fact they looked a completely different side literally as soon as he returned hints at a problem on Tyneside.
Outside of his forward-thinking passes, the distinct lack of creativity that has threatened to derail their title challenge during his absence was still evident. Relying so much on one man – particularly with a history to dip in form if things aren’t going his way – really is a worry, especially across a campaign as arduous as the Championship in winter months.
His return to the side is obviously a bonus, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a further issue to address here as the January transfer window winds down.
Rafa Benitez (or whoever is in charge of transfer these days – it’s confusing) needs to ensure the over-reliance on Shelvey that caused his side to blip during the Christmas and New Year period is properly addressed. They got off lucky this time. Maybe not next.