Mo Diame's performance against Birmingham suggests Newcastle United fans should question Rafael Benitez

Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez

The midfielder impressed in his natural position against Birmingham City, so why does the Newcastle United boss insist on playing him in a different role?

Mohamed Diame of Newcastle United (R) in action with Jacob Butterfield of Derby County

A major factor in Newcastle United making Mo Diame a major priority in the summer transfer window was his driving runs from deep; his ability to shrug of challenges and power his team forward like a budget Yaya Toure.

Therefore, it does not make a whole lot of sense to force the Senegalese into an ill-fitting number ten position. Diame thrives with space in which to gallop. He is a swinging wrecking ball of a midfielder, not a David Silva-like play-maker capable of threading the ball through the eye of the needle.

It is perhaps no surprise then that Diame produced one of his better performances in a Newcastle shirt during Saturday’s otherwise disappointing stalemate at Birmingham City. With the ill Jonjo Shelvey dropping out, the former Hull City enforcer partnered Jack Colback in a deep midfield role and offered a timely reminder why Newcastle bought him in the first place.

No player in Magpies’ colours made more tackles than Diame against Gianfranco Zola’s side as he demonstrated a work rate and tenacity that has been conspicuous by its absence at times this season.

Newcastle's Mohamed Diame misses a chance to score

Colback, too, performed impressively in central midfield, scrapping and harrying tirelessly as Newcastle’s much-maligned midfield duo provided the platform for a point which, albeit could and should have been more, edges the club ever closer to promotion.

However, when Shelvey rose from the bench with ten minutes remaining to replace Ayoze Perez, Diame was again shunted forward into the number 10 role by Rafael Benitez in a move that baffled supporters.

Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez

The Spaniard should have realised by now, with just two months of the season to go, that the 29-year-old simply cannot play in such a refined position. Although when given an opportunity in his preferred role, Diame’s worth is clear to see.

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch