Rafa Benitez could not hide his frustration with Jonjo Shelvey for his needless sending off during Newcastle’s opening day defeat by Tottenham and admitted he will think again before giving the player the captain’s armband.
Shelvey, the stand-in skipper because Jamaal Lascelles was only a substitute, stamped on the ankle of Tottenham’s England star Dele Alli, three minutes into the second half, when the score was goalless.
Referee Andre Marriner produced a red card that will rule the midfielder out for three games for violent conduct. Spurs then scored twice, through Alli and Ben Davies and struck the woodwork at the death to seal a comfortable victory.
Do you feel let down, Benitez was asked?
“It’s not me, it is everyone,” he said. “We have been talking about that for a while. He knows he’s made a mistake. He apologised but still, we lost the game.
“He apologised to the dressing room after the game, to everyone.
“I was happy with the effort of the players and a lot of positives but still, if you want to win games, we can’t lose our focus for just one minute. I think we know we are in the Premier League and we have to do everything really well if we want to win games. All the effort we put on the pitch was lost because we made a mistake.”
He was asked if Shelvey would retain the captain’s armband and he tersely replied: “We will see in the future. It is too early.”
Benitez said he thought Harry Kane should also have been sent off for the foul which saw Newcastle debutant Florian Lejeune taken off injured in the 34th minute. Lejeune left St James’ Park with a protective boot on.
“I would like to say the tackle from behind of Harry Kane was worse,” he added. “The rules are the rules and we pay for that. It is worse. It is more dangerous. I have to change one players. Dele Alli has nothing.”
Benitez also revealed he did not know if he would be meeting the Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, who was at the defeat by Spurs. Ashley spoke to Sky television at length about his controversial ten years in charge at the club. The pair have not spoken since a meeting at the end of last season when Benitez was given assurances about the summer transfer window. He said last week he was not happy with the club’s business.
“I have to concentrate on my team,” Benitez responded when asked if there would be a meeting. “That’s it.
“It is the same situation we had before. We know what we need.”
The Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino conceded his team also needs strengthening, regardless of the victory.
“I think the balance is the most important,” he said. “We need some new players that bring some new energy to the team. It is important to challenge your players.
“For me, we need to sign some players until the end of the transfer window. It is important to refresh the squad to create more competition between us.
“We have ten months and we are involved in four competitions. We need more competition, more quality, more players who can play in the team to keep the level we want.”