Under Benitez, Shelvey was pushed down the pecking order behind both Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff. The 27-year-old only managed to start 10 top-flight games last season and was in the heart of midfield during the Magpies’ opening game against Arsenal on Sunday.
Shelvey appears to be a big part of Bruce’s plans in the middle of the park, with the former Liverpool man perfect to act as a pivot in possession with his ability to deliver a pass to anywhere on the pitch.
Darren Bent appears to agree with Bruce’s decision to start Shelvey and has voiced his praise for the midfielder in an interview with Football Insider, claiming that the 27-year-old is the only real player of quality for the Magpies.
The Sky Sports pundit said: “I like Shelvey, he came close with a bit of magic when they hit the post.”
“For them, he is the one player in their squad who has real, real quality. It’s just whether he can stay fit again. Steve Bruce, if he sees something in him, he’ll get on him.”
Bent is spot on with his verdict on Shelvey, with the midfielder definitely having the ability to be a gamechanger for Newcastle this season.
The passing ability is what sets Shelvey apart from the rest of the Magpies’ midfield, with both Hayden and Longstaff in that position for their battling qualities on and off the ball.
Shelvey averaged 39.3 passes every game last season, with 1.6 of those being key passes to teammates according to WhoScored. On top of that, he also averaged 1.4 tackles which add a defensive side to his skills on the ball.
The 27-year-old could be the difference this season between a relegation battle and mid-table security, with his ability to control a game giving the Magpies every opportunity to earn points consistently.