Newcastle’s visit to Brighton on Saturday has helped ensure almost for certain, that Premier League football will be played at the Amex Stadium next season.
Cardiff’s defeat twinned with Brighton’s point from a strange game of two halves, leaves the Welsh club needing to beat bot Palace at home and Man Utd at Old Trafford to have any chance of surviving.
Not surprising, the thoughts of Brighton fans has now turned to next season and improvements that need to be made.
One of those is central midfield, where the home side were shocking.
Easy to see why prior to Saturday, the previous seven games had produced no goals, with Chris Hughton’s team repeatedly losing the contest in the middle of the pitch.
Isaac Hayden is still desperate to leave Newcastle for personal reasons and move back down south, he (Hayden) has stated that the past two windows saw a transfer agreed with another Premier League club only for Rafa Benitez to veto it due to Newcastle’s lack of options.
That club has been widely reported to be Brighton.
Jonjo Shelvey was a big talking point for Brighton fans after the game, regarding his merits or otherwise, the Seagulls clearly even more desperate than Newcastle for creativity.
It looks odds on that both Hayden and Shelvey will leave this summer and what odds of them turning up together at Brighton?
It would be a strange feeling seeing them together for a rival club but for probably no more than £30m for the pair it would surely be achievable for the south coast club, especially with the ambition shown by owner Tony Bloom so far to back the manager/club with transfer cash.
As for Newcastle, the lack of urgency in sorting Rafa’s position is delaying any transfer strategy for NUFC. As well as Hayden and Shelvey, Diame looks certain to leave as well.
Which then leaves us in centre midfield with the potential of Sean Longstaff who has only started a handful of senior games so far, plus Ki Sung-yeung who has only a year left on his contract and turns 31 in January.
I’m guessing Newcastle will need to buy at least two central midfielders this summer and both of the standard where they would be expected to be competing for a first team place as soon as they arrive.
Brighton fans commenting via their North Stand Chat message board:
‘Jonjo Shelvey running the show and the sort of player we crave. Him going off changed the game.’
‘Stuart Pearce called this one right. When we were going ultra-defensive and dead slow, offering no threat in their area, he was able to stroll round at walking pace and control the game. Once we upped the anti and started taking it to them in the second half, Rafa took him off.
Knows what he’s doing, does that Rafa fellow…..’
‘Think it’s more to do with tiredness as he hasn’t played much football lately’
‘Seemed like every one of his passes went to Newcastle players in good positions. We have no one with that ability.’
‘Rate him and I’ve heard unsettled up North and wants to return to the south.
Contracted to summer 2021 but I reckon could get him for 18m.’
‘I think Hayden helped him out well.’
‘Hayden sat deep with Shelvey. When he got the ball, if he couldn’t pass it back to a defender (Stephens style), he passed it to Shelvey the quarterback. I’d hate it if we signed him.’
‘Shelvey looked great when we afforded him time and space and he was playing in our half. When we were the dominant team he disappeared.’
‘As soon as I saw Shelvey was in the starting line-up I was worried as it was obvious that our virtually non-contested mid-field would give him all the time and space he needed to ping the ball around at leisure.
Did anyone put in a tackle on him or even close him down? Not sure he was fully fit but pretty sure that he didn’t need to be.’
‘Thought he was excellent and did run the game for an hour. However, we could hardly have made it easier unless I was man marking him.
I can’t vouch for the dickhead bit but I think he would suit our ‘style’. We want to play deep and then play on the counter. A passer with the range of Shelvey would be an asset, if he isn’t sent off first.’
‘There is “something of the night” about him but I’d love him here spraying it around for Andone to get on the end of.
Just pick the right player to partner him.’
‘Shelvey? Didn’t notice him at all. Presumed he was taken off for lack of involvement. Certainly wouldn’t want him in our midfield. Now Atsu. Bloomin’ glad when he went off.’
‘Shelvy was bang average. Thats why he’s still at Newcastle.’
‘If he signed for us, it wouldn’t be long before Hughton has coached all that positive play out of him.’
‘It isn’t just about today. He has always looked good when we have come up against him. A good player. Better than any of our CM.’
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