Rafa Benitez is struggling to fit his three best midfielders into a 4-2-3-1 formation, but a different Newcastle system might well work.
Throughout his career, Rafa Benitez has determinedly stuck to a 4-2-3-1 formation, demanding that players like Steven Gerrard adapt to it.
And yet, at Newcastle United, he surely must be considering trialling an alternative system as it becomes clear that he has a squad that might make better use of a different formation.
Both Merino and Shelvey can play in an advanced position, but their best football has undoubtedly been played in a withdrawn role where they can dictate play.
Calls for the pair to be partnered in a midfield two will only go so far as Hayden quietly remains one of Newcastle's most important players, with his energy and drive key all over the pitch.
But there should be room for all three midfielders, particularly given Newcastle's lack of an outstanding number 10.
A switch to a 4-3-3 could see the trio link up and create a devastating midfield that would boast an array of attributes suited to the Premier League.
Should Benitez be tempted to make the switch, here is how a full-strength Newcastle could line up: