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Opinion

Jonjo Shelvey wants to give up beer for football this summer

1 year ago
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Like most of his teammates, Jonjo Shelvey appears to have hit a brick wall after helping Newcastle to reach 41 points with five games still remaining.

Playing alongside Mohamed Diame, the former Liverpool and Swansea midfielder belatedly found the perfect partner at NUFC and together they have been the pair at the heart of Newcastle sparking into form.

Jonjo Shelvey gives most/all of the credit to Rafa Benitez, saying that the United boss ‘has turned the club around.’

If Rafa agrees to stay on at St James Park, Shelvey believes that would be ‘the most important signing of the season.’

The midfielder also says he feared the worst nine months ago, when after a needless red card against Dele Alli and Spurs, he thought he could end up playing and training with the kids.

Jonjo Shelvey though went into training the next day and Rafa put his arm around him and said ‘Just forget about it, let’s move on and keep pushing.’

I’m not convinced that Rafa really forgot about it because he didn’t then give Shelvey another start until the eighth match of the season when Liverpool visited, Shelvey creating the goal that rescued a point.

In reality, both Jonjo Shelvey and the team were pretty poor throughout 2017, he started eight more games before the new year and NUFC picked up only four points in them, three of those were thanks to Mikel Merino coming off the bench and earning an undeserved victory over Palace with a late header.

Shelvey then played well in the 1-0 win at Stoke on New Year’s Day but apart from that, I struggle to really remember him being anything but average at best this season until the whole club sparked to life against Man Utd.

With loan signings Dubravka and Kenedy in the team, Newcastle beat Man Utd with Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame instrumental in that. That set off a run of five wins and a draw in six games for the player, Shelvey missing the defeat at Anfield.

Two months before signing for Newcastle in January 2016, Jonjo Shelvey appeared for England against both Spain and France, but hasn’t been sighted since.

As for this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia…’In the past I would have been there sat there with a glass of beer watching it but hopefully I’ll be there.’

Whilst he undoubtedly has a passing ability better than pretty much any other English player, you have to accept that if he did get the call, he would be a very lucky lad.

Being better than average in no more than 10 games in a season doesn’t really push your claims and certainly, you felt he had to keep up the form in these final five games of the season to stand any chance of Gareth Southgate looking up his number.

Instead he has disappeared once again against Everton, West Brom and Watford, though I suppose if you were an eternal optimist you might point to closing games against Spurs and Chelsea as a chance to shine.

A good chance Southgate will be at Wembley tonight, especially with the Spurs’ England contingent, then on Sunday the Chelsea match is looking odds on to be on live TV.

Always a chance of somebody sneaking into the World Cup squad late on, especially if Shelvey delivered some killer balls against Chelsea and Tottenham, to make Southgate muse about having that at his disposal from the bench in the tournament.

However, if I was Jonjo Shelvey, I wouldn’t be cancelling this summer’s beer order just yet…and instead be thinking of how best to ensure he pulls it all together on a regular basis next season for Newcastle.

Jonjo Shelvey talking to Sky Sports:

“I think that would be the most important signing of the summer is we could make Rafa stay.

Hopefully the manager will stay and we can keep building.

“He has turned the club around.

“When I first came here, there wasn’t really a link between the fans and the players, now there is such a buzz in Newcastle.

“He has got this aura about him and if you look at his CV, it speaks for itself.

“You just want to keep learning from him. You just need to be like a sponge and take it all in.

“We were losing 2-0 at half-time the other day [at Watford] and in other dressing rooms I’ve been in, I would think ‘we’re going to get one here at half-time’, but he just stayed calm.

“I think that transferred onto the pitch in the second half, we were a different team, it shows a lot about him as a character.

“I sent a text to him [Rafa Benitez] and some of my team-mates when I got home [after being sent off against Tottenham in the first match of the season], just apologising.

“The next day I came into training and he put his arm around me and said ‘just forget about it, let’s move on and keep pushing towards where we know you can get to.’

“I could have found myself training with the younger lads but luckily for me, I have a manager who trusts me, has faith in me and knows I can play good football.

“It would be lovely to get called up and it would probably be the biggest achievement I will ever have, to go the World Cup.

“I’ve not heard anything but I don’t know how it works, I’ve been out of the set-up for a long time.

“In the past I would have been there sat there with a glass of beer watching it but hopefully I’ll be there.

“You want to play for your country and obviously that is my aim.”

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