The relegation run-in was a grim time for everybody last season, particularly so though for Jonjo Shelvey.
Once Rafa Benitez had got his bearings, the former Liverpool player was one of those dropped by the new manager as not being one he felt he could rely on to help dig Newcastle out of trouble.
Losing over a stone in the summer as he was determined to turn it around at Newcastle, Shelvey has been in sparkling form and behind most of United’s decent play.
The word ‘revelation’ is used far too often and incorrectly in football, the suggestion being that a player is suddenly showing something that you never realised they were capable of.
That very definitely isn’t the case with Jonjo Shelvey, it is easy to forget that only two months before arriving at St James Park, he was appearing for England against France and Spain.
Even more than Andros Townsend, Shelvey must surely have hoped that the move to Tyneside would give him the platform to make sure of his place for the Euros in France.
When he turned in a brilliant performance on his Newcastle debut to take the then high flying West Ham apart, it looked written in the stars that the former Swansea man would lead Newcastle to safety and book his place on the summer plane journey over the Channel.
The highlight of that day was a supreme 60+ yard diagonal ball to Daryl Janmaat on the run down the right, the defence splitting ball creating the first goal in the 2-1 win.
Fair to say that he was dragged down by the situation and some of the other players, easy to also forget that he was only 23 and not quite as experienced/mature as his looks suggest.
This season we aren’t seeing a revelation, we are simply seeing the real Jonjo Shelvey.
United’s latest game clearly felt like a necessary evil for the cultured midfielder, describing it as a ‘horrible match to play in’, due to the fact that ‘the ball was in the air for probably 80% of the time’.
The size and look (actually lost his hair due to a medical condition) of Jonjo Shelvey belies the fact that by far his biggest strengths are getting on the ball and passing it around the pitch, with often laser like accuracy.
Jonjo Shelvey speaking to the official club website:
“It (Rotherham) was a horrible match to play in as the ball was in the air for probably 80% of the time – but the main thing was the three points.
“If you’re going to go up in this league you need to go to places like that and get the points.
“I thought that we defended really well, battled throughout and showed real heart and desire to get the three points.
“There will be more supposedly glamorous games coming up but it was nice to go there and get the three points, as you can see what it means to those teams.
“Playing against Newcastle is probably the pinnacle of their season and so we needed to match their work rate, their effort and desire – then that extra bit of quality can shine through for us.
“In this league, games come thick and fast. I’ve played in the last few games in this little period before the international break so it’s nice to have this break now, get some rest and then go again for Brentford.
“On the flipside though, when you’re winning you don’t want to stop. You want to keep playing and playing and playing and keep winning games.
“It’s just nice to play for this great football club. I’d play left-back if I had to, as long as I was on that pitch and starting every week.
“I know it’s a team game but you are obviously disappointed when you don’t start and I think you’d be mad not to be disappointed – but you have to take that on the chin and I have done that.
“I started the season on the bench but now I’ve got myself into the team and my plan is to stay there, keep fighting for my place week in and week out.”