Danny Murphy revealed that he was “struggling” to see why Jonjo Shelvey wasn’t getting in the Newcastle United team, when he watched them play Chelsea.
While working as a commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live (Saturday 13:08), the 40-year-old was mystified at the decision to leave the midfielder on the bench.
“Ultimately, if you’re going to leave him out, you need someone in there who does the things he does,” Murphy said, “and Merino doesn’t do that better than Shelvey.”
Mikel Merino was given the nod to start against Chelsea and also started the midweek 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion, with Rafa Benitez opting to just name Shelvey on the bench for both matches.
Murphy admitted that Benitez liked “disciplined teams” and that there was a “question mark” over Shelvey’s defensive abilities.
However, he claimed that Newcastle would be a better side with Shelvey in it – and that was in evidence as they laboured to defeat against Chelsea in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off.
Murphy also suggested that Shelvey would get “the hump” if Benitez didn’t start picking him.
The 25-year-old has featured 11 times for Newcastle United this season but has failed to score a goal or grab an assist.
Last season, he was a key man for the Magpies playing 47 games across all competitions, providing 12 assists and getting five goals.
In other Newcastle United news, Danny Higginbotham has pinpointed the Magpies’ failures in recent weeks.