Newcastle United are officially in crisis mode after the departure of Rafa Benitez. Every player needs to improve for the sake of the fans, but three players in particular must carry the team next season.
Newcastle United announced the departure of Rafa Benitez on Monday morning. This announcement, which took Benitez by surprise as he found out the club gave up on negotiations on television, has stirred up a mix of emotions on Tyneside, primarily sadness and anger. Fans were quick to react on social media and players like Ayoze Perez, Isaac Hayden, Jamaal Lascelles, Salomon Rondon and Federico Fernandez also took to social media to thank Benitez for all that he’s done at Newcastle United.
Training camp begins on July 4th and the team currently have no manager. By the time a new manager is brought in, presumably at some point this week, an adjustment period will be required. For this reason, it is crucial that three specific players on the roster step up their game this summer to set an example for the rest of the team if Top Flight survival is to be achieved.
Jonjo Shelvey was a top player for the Magpies in 2016 and 2017, but last season was one to forget. His lingering thigh injury kept him sidelined for months, but the unexpected rise of Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden kept him on the bench far more than he would have liked after fully recovering.
With Mohamed Diame moving to Qatar and Isaac Hayden likely on his way out, this summer is the perfect time for Shelvey’s resurgence as the team’s primary general in midfield. Newcastle United need Shelvey to be in top form as the Toon are expected to be in yet another relegation battle.
Matt Ritchie has been a joy to watch under Rafa Benitez and it is fair to say that his passion and work ethic on the pitch is unmatched on the roster. The Scottish winger is one of the most reliable players on the team and his consistency on the wing has kept Newcastle United competitive in most matches.
Ritchie needs to maintain this form heading into next season, but he needs to be more involved offensively with goals. Seeing that Ayoze Perez is likely to leave and Salomon Rondon’s odds of joining the Toon have dropped significantly, Ritchie needs to step up to the plate and aim to score eight or nine goals next season. Goals from midfield will be crucial this coming season.
Finally we have Miguel Almiron – the Magpies’ most expensive signing in team history. His first few months on Tyneside were used to adapt to English football after coming over from Major League Soccer. Almiron proved that he can be a playmaker by orchestrating big plays that led to goals, but the Toon Army desperately need him to fill up the stat sheet with goals and assists next season, especially if Ayoze Perez leaves for Spain.
Aside from Sean Longstaff, Almiron has the most potential to become a great Premier League player. He joined Newcastle United because of Benitez, but now he is the face of the team and fans will be turning to him to lead the squad on the field. It’s time for Miggy to shine as he did at Atlanta United.