Jonjo Shelvey “We don’t play the most attractive football but it works”
Jonjo Shelvey and Martin Dubravka are the only two players who have seamlessly carried on their good form of late last season.
From February onwards it included victories over Man Utd, Huddersfield, Southampton, Arsenal, Leicester and Chelsea.
Jonjo Shelvey was right on top of his game, Diame playing above himself in support and Kenedy on loan adding another creative option that helped free up Shelvey more.
This season has seen Diame drop off back to being more like the player we;d previously seen, whilst Kenedy has been abysmal.
However, the defeats to Man Utd and Brighton have had a silver lining in that Kenedy has appeared to find something close to the spark we saw last season, whilst Diame and others are at least showing some signs of improvement.
Whilst clearly there were elements of self-destruction that contributed to these two latest defeats, no reasonable person could claim that Newcastle’s performances didn’t deserve some reward.
The possibilities of that will once again largely fall on the shoulders of Jonjo Shelvey and his belief is clearly there: ‘If I stay mentally right during a game, then I feel like I can be up there with the best.’
The midfielder believes he should have been with England in Russia but whereas he may have sulked once upon a time, the indications so far are that it has inspired him to do better.
A possibility of a Rondon and Muto new partnership up front today and if Kenedy continues to improve, as well as Ritchie and Diame playing near their best, Jonjo Shelvey may now have an environment where his good displays could start producing victories for Newcastle United.
It doesn’t take a genius either to appreciate that if Rafa Benitez was belatedly backed with better quality attacking/creative players in January, that would only help Shelvey in being even more productive for the team.
“To be honest, I don’t really care anymore (about getting back into the England squad).
“That is me being honest. I did care…but now I have sort of given up on the idea.
“I am obviously not his (Southgate’s) cup of tea.
“I have never been told that but that’s the feeling I get.
“In the summer I thought I had a real good chance and I was checking my phone all the time.
“That is not a lie, my whole family thought I had a good chance.
“It wasn’t to be and I thought at the start of this season I might get a sniff, even if just a call-up to be around it, but it isn’t to be.
“It does hurt you because you want to be there.
“You felt they struggled to make the final pass (in Russia), to create that chance, I could have been that man.
“I now feel like that I can run a game from start to finish. I feel like I’ve kicked on as a player.
“There are moments when you need to get back on the ball and keep it short and when to make the right pass.
“If I stay mentally right during a game, then I feel like I can be up there with the best.
“The way I play football it is old school but the game has changed.
“I would have liked to have played in the Gascoigne era, but there is so much sport science around, you have to change with it.
“I trained three times a day for six weeks in the summer of 2016.
“A footballer isn’t made in the gym but the way the game is going now, you have got to do it.
“When I was eight or nine we had a goal in the back yard of our council flat and we used to flip it over the back fence and take it out onto the estate.
“Everybody would come out and we would play for hours, there were cars screeching to a halt when the ball went on the road.
“I have been petulant growing up, and I have made stupid mistakes on a football pitch, but I have changed.
“Where the gaffer (Rafa Benitez) is so good, he stays calm and tells us to take a deep breath and carry on.
“If he has something to say to you, he won’t embarrass you in front of the group.
“There was lots of angry words said in the dressing room at Old Trafford (after losing 3-2) but it was between the players.
“Only then did the manager step in and start to shout a bit – but mainly that was to tell us to remain calm.
“I am totally confident that we will stay up, there are definitely three worse teams than us in this league.
“We don’t play the most attractive football but it works, we have a plan for every game.
“I don’t know how long the manager’s deal is (runs out at end of season).
“I personally want him to stay while I’m at this football club – for me he has been brilliant.”
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