By Tom Easterby - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Jonjo Shelvey has welcomed the appointment of new Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez - and revealed what the Magpies players can expect from their new manager.
The 24-year-old is working with the Spaniard for the second time, after Benitez handed him his first shot at the Barclays Premier League when he signed him for Liverpool from Charlton Athletic in 2010.
And, while sorry to see the departure of Steve McClaren this week, Shelvey believes United are "lucky" to have the former Real Madrid boss at the helm as they bid to preserve their Barclays Premier League status this season.
"It's obviously sad to see Steve go, because he brought me into the Club and I owe so much to him for bringing me to this great football club, but ultimately it didn't work out for him here," he explained.
"But we've been lucky to get Rafa, because he's a great organiser of teams, and you hear things from ex-players about how great he is. It's just an exciting time for the fans and the players to learn more about Rafa Benitez and the way that he wants us to play.
"He must think a lot of the Club to come in and take over. He's been at Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Napoli, Liverpool - he's been at all these top clubs, and I think it speaks so highly of the stature of this Club for him to take on an opportunity like this."
Benitez brought a young Shelvey to Anfield in May 2010 before departing Liverpool the following month.
And, though the pair didn't spend a great deal of time working with each other on Merseyside, Shelvey has some insight into how the Champions League-winning manager works.
"I went up there in the May and signed and met him, but I didn't know then that later on down the line he'd become my manager elsewhere. It's a bit mad really, but it's nice that I've met him before and I've got a little feel for him," said the former Swansea man.
"He's a very tactical man. He knows what he wants you to do and he gets his point across very clearly, and he sets up teams for us not to get beat but on the other hand, he wants you to go and play as well.
"It suits us down to the ground I think, so I'm sure he'll be getting us to do that straight away and the quicker we do it, the easier it'll be for us and the fans. Fingers crossed we can implement his gameplan on Monday night and kick on from there."
He added: "At this moment in time, we need to get points up on the board and I think the way we need to do that is be organised and everyone know their jobs, and as a team. I think that's what he brings."
Benitez's first task in the United dugout will be to try and bring three points back to Tyneside from the King Power Stadium on Monday night, as the Magpies take on league leaders Leicester City (8pm kick-off).
Shelvey reckons his appointment will "bring a new lease of life" to Newcastle, saying that spirits in the camp were high as they prepare for their first outing under the new manager.
"You see the honours he's won, and you don't win those without knowing what you're doing. He's a top manager and everyone's excited in the changing room," he said. "It's like when you go to school for your first day - everyone's trying to impress the manager, everyone's in early and in the gym.
"It's exciting to work with someone who's worked at the top clubs - he was at Real Madrid earlier this season, and that speaks highly of the calibre of the manager he is.
"He'll bring a new lease of life to Newcastle. The players are excited, and everyone's excited around the city."