Sky Sports' pundit Tony Cottee admitted that he was a little surprised to see Jonjo Shelvey left out of the Newcastle side for their trip to the Hawthorns. Shelvey was left on the bench for the first time this season, only called upon by manager Rafa Benitez, for the the remaining 11 minutes of the game.
Shelvey's introduction after the 80th minute mark was the spark that Newcastle needed, and according to Cottee this was of little surprise to him. Cottee told Soccer Special on Sky Sports:
"If he's fit, he should play because he gets in that midfield, he strolls around, he's got a fantastic range of passing and he was involved in everything going forward and they looked a better team with him in that side." (via HITC)
Newcastle went into last night's game against West Brom hoping to put to an end a run of four consecutive defeats. Benitez chose to go about this feat without the services of Shelvey, instead opting for Isaac Hayden and Mikel Merino in the centre midfield.
Benitez's gamble to leave out Shelvey looked to have backfired, as Newcastle fell 2-0 down. Credit to Newcastle though as came back from their deficit, salvaging a point with the help of Shelvey, who provided the missing impetus to spare his manager's blushes.
Cottee admitted that he hadn't followed Newcastle's progress closely, though decreed that Shelvey should be one of the first names on the team sheet.
He told Sky Sports: "I haven't followed Newcastle enough to know whether he's been injured, whether he's out of favour, whether his performances have been bad."
Newcastle's search for a win continues, and Benitez will need to be more astute in his tinkering going forward. Now the Tyneside club are tasked with a trip to champions Chelsea over the weekend, where they'll be hoping to spring a surprise or two during this fixture pileup.