Jonjo Shelvey was much talked about in the lead up to Gareth Southgate naming his 23 man squad.

The Newcastle midfielder’s form in the later months of the season seeing  a groundswell of opinion backing his inclusion.

It wasn’t just Newcastle fans either, supporters of other clubs as well as many pundits, ex-players and managers, all thinking he was wort including as he could add something  different.

As the day approached for the squad to be named, the bookies actually had him around an even money chance to be picked, having been a 25/1+ rank outsider months before.

There wasn’t outrage for most when he was left behind but many felt it was maybe a missed opportunity and could just possibly be proved to be a mistake.

Moving forward five or six weeks and I personally don’t think anybody could criticise Southgate’s team selections.

The first eleven pretty much picked themselves and the only change I would have suggested (if Mr Southgate had happened to call me…), is that maybe Danny Rose would be a better option than Ashley Young against a Croatia team, where England were expected to maybe have more possession and need players to break the opposition down, rather than defend too much against.

Ashley Young is a better and quicker defender but Danny Rose superior going forward and able to put in balls with his left foot, instead of coming inside.

We’ll never know as it is all hypothetical now, just as it is with Jonjo Shelvey…

However, my opinion is that last night with 20 minutes to go, Shelvey would have been an ideal substitute to come on.

Nobody was suggesting he should have been going to Russia to start games but rather if they needed some inspiration in the final 20 minutes of a game…

England had dominated the first half in terms of both goal threat and possession but then lost their way in the second half, they couldn’t keep the ball and were totally lacking in ideas and creativity. They needed someone to put their foot on the ball, just as Modric was doing for Croatia.

Modric is a better player than Jonjo Shelvey but the Newcastle man is capable of doing some things better than the Real Madrid midfielder, especially killer passes into the likes of a Harry Kane.

When Croatia eventually scored with just over 20 minutes remaining, this is how Gareth Southgate then reacted as the game slipped away from him.

74 mins Rashford for Sterling

90 mins Rose for Young

97 mins Dier for Henderson

112 mins Vardy for Walker

I would argue that of the four changes, only Danny Rose (marginally) improved England going forward.

Vardy and Rashford are both excellent strikers but it wasn’t what England had been crying out for. They needed somebody to feed/pick out Harry Kane and maybe to a lesser extent Sterling as well.

As for Eric Dier, I’m not even sure what he does for Tottenham, never mind England…

I think Jonjo Shelvey could have made a difference as an impact sub with 20 minutes to go, or in extra time. The likes of Delph and Dier, for me they offered nothing different.

To be honest, it was a similar story against Colombia but we got away with that one. So much on top and then once Colombia got the upper hand, England really struggled to create anything. A combination of luck and guts getting them through those final stages and the penalties.

Nobody surely could argue about Croatia’s eventual superiority last night, the stats showing (via BBC Sport) twice as many shots (22 v 11), more than three times as many on target (7 v 2), twice a many corners (8 v 4), and more possession (55% v 45%).

The split between the stats in the first hour and the second hour would be interesting to see, to my mind Shelvey could well have turned the tide any time during that second hour as Harry Kane largely fed on scraps, as indeed had been the case against Sweden as well.

The good news though for Newcastle fans is that Jonjo Shelvey should be spot on for new season with no extended holiday time due to the World Cup, or getting over coming so close to being part of a squad/team that could/should have made the World Cup final and then who knows…

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  • Paul Patterson

    England were pedestrian in the second half last night but should have been two up at half time. They are a bit like Newcastle, once you scratch the surface there isn’t much there. The players in reserve are not international class. Fine against the minnows, but once they play the bigger teams . . That said, Shelvey should have been there as an option . .

    • TheNutJob

      they were a lot like Newcastle, Rafa was limited in his options
      Southgate wasn`t

  • Martin Rooney

    Southgate devised a system for his team to play, then picked a squad which didn’t fit enough. Henderson was a perfect fit for the system, however his alternative in the midfield was Dier, they are no where near the same type of player and Southgate should know that. As soon as Dier came on Croatia spent even more time in the England half due to his positional play. We’ll never know and he is just as far away from Henderson type player as Dier but maybe Shelvey would have been a better replacement.
    His system of three center backs appears to work in terms of controlling movement on the pitch, then he goes and chooses a right back for one of the spots, Is Walker worthy of and England place certainly, and Trippier has proved he is too, however you don’t play a player in the wrong position just because he’s very good in another one. Two failings for goals in the box have been due to Walker not doing the CB job of attacking balls pumped into the box. That’s not his fault its not what he’s become international class at. Dare I say it Lascelles is a better CB than Walker is, every day. This world cup was a great opportunity and they have fluffed it mainly down to manager decisions.

    • Paul Patterson

      Look at the stats from last night, we were mullered . .

      • TheNutJob

        Southgate thinks he`s better than he is & all the garbage he was spouting about uniting the nation, he must have forgotten about the Scots, Welsh & Irish. it`s an English football team, not a political platform,

      • Martin Rooney

        We were mullered by two, just two pieces of poor central defending, no one could say we have better players than Croatia, so you have to two devise a system that will win the cup, he was close. A bit like Rafa getting the Toon to 10th

    • Wor Lass

      Completely agree about those players. Imagine if Walker had been at right wingback instead of Young and Jamaal in the middle with Stones and Maguire.

  • TheNutJob

    England had no offensive midfield backup and paid the price for it, Southgate had the choice between Dier or Loftus Cheek, i think he made the wrong choice & Rose is far better than Young.
    would Jonjo have made a difference, yes

  • Ron

    Of course Jonjo would have made a difference, but Lascelles would never have been caught with the looping ball into the area! Gareth missed them both.

    • pedrodelgardo

      I love our Captain but I wouldn’t want him playing one-twos around centre forwards like Stones and Slabhead.

      • Ron

        Exactly he’s not like either – he’s his own man

  • Hughie

    No, Shelvey is his own worst enemy and after a couple of kicks from Croatians would have retaliated– can’t help himself. May also be a poor tourist. Wise of Southgate not to risk him -sad, but another highly talented Gazza-like loose cannon. If Henderson is off his game or knackered like last night though the midfield is poor. Ali was a non entity in each match apart from his one goal and is a luxury player too slow for international football. Lingard and Sterling have promise but were poor last night. Dier is not the answer. Crying out for a box to box dynamo like Modric or Cabaye, and a decent winger. Townsend would have been my choice, instead of Sterling who was erratic throughout the tournament.

    • paul mclaughlan

      Only problem is we’ve not had a player of such quality as Modric since Gazza.

  • paul mclaughlan

    Even if Shelvey had gone we don’t have players who could control his passes. Sterling, Lingard and Rashford can trap a ball further than most people can kick one.

  • Desree

    The movement wasn’t there up front for Shelvey to have made an impact in the last 20 mins.

  • Wezza

    Shelvey would have held the ball and picked out a pass. It is all ifs buts and maybes. Never mind the better team won. At least we didn’t get screwed by VAR.
    England was a kind distraction from the sesspool of corruption from our illustrious owner.
    What have we got to look forward to now?

    • Mike Adam

      The start of the PL season maybe.

    • Duh


  • Slim_Newcastle

    Knew we were doomed when he brought Dier on. Trying to get a foothold back in the game and he brings a defensive midfielder on. Hardly inspiring. Could Shelvey have had any less of on impact? Doubtful.

  • Dillon Tovak

    To answer the headline, no Shelvey definitely didn’t enter his mind. He ain’t a fan clearly.

  • Stephen

    The England players gave everything and more, so criticism from me
    But taking a chance on a ball player Shelvey or Wilshire may have made a significant difference
    Another option image Big Andy Carrol coming on at the end of the game.
    The Croatian defenders seemed intent on physical battle, He would have given them one.

  • 5floorshigh

    thought they did ok, and to reach the WC semi with a team in the making was an achievement. Quite a few players excelling and one or two were disappointing, most notably Alli, thought he had a very poor tournament….was surprised he was not substituted second half, Loftus was worth a try, who wins a lot of free kicks (set pieces being one of out main strengths)…..bring on the euros !

  • Peaco

    He wasn’t sat next to him. End of. Let’s get over it.

  • HarryHype59

    The main difference between both teams last night was the managers. The Croation coach changed tactics at half time , resulting in his side taking control of the game. Southgate doesn’t have a plan B or the tactical nous to adjust to tactical changes made by the opposition.

    The technical limitations of our “super stars” was revealed yet again. Lingaard, Sterling ,Alli and Kane are mere journeyman at International level.

    • Geoff Dunn

      Totally agree

  • Peter C

    Shelvey would’ve been a useful addition to the squad, and given it an alternative dimension, that it didn’t have.

    Southgate made a huge mistake in not selecting him in the party of 23.

    Southgate made another mistake in selecting Phil Jones, because the guy is an absolute donkey …….. come back Tony Adams, who at his tender age now, is probably better than Jones will ever be.

  • shellington

    They are a bang average side that fluked it’s way to the semis where on meeting the first team of any real quality were soundly beaten.

    Lascelles and Shelvey would have improved the side but let’s face it if they were in the other half of the draw would have been lucky to get to the quarters.

    I also don’t share the commentators opportunism that there is more to come from this group of players, 4-5 of them need to become world class to take them to the next level and that is just not going happen.

  • pedrodelgardo

    In the Columbia game you can make the case that Shelvey was exactly what we needed to threaten their goal but the reason he was left behind is that he might have reacted to their underhand tactics – they would have targetted him for special treatment.
    It concerned me when Southgate said he didn’t fit in with the way we want to play – Gareth, we play opposition with different strengths and weaknesses so you need more than one way to play.

  • Foggy

    Not sure if he missed Shelvey but I bet he wishes he’d left deli Ali at home. He started off poor, got steadily worse and finally just about disappeared.

  • Vodkamagpie

    Shelvey would of done a better job than Henderson