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Opinion

Jonjo Shelvey reaches a crossroads at Newcastle United

3 years ago
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Big season ahead for Jonjo Shelvey

Ever since breaking through as a teenager at Charlton there has been big things expected of Jonjo Shelvey.

Now 27 years old, the classy midfielder should be approaching the best years of his career but the question remains unanswered: Will he ever fulfil his undoubted potential?

There have been flashes of his true ability at every club he has played for and we’ve seen first-hand what he is capable of during his time at Newcastle.

After failing to impress during our doomed attempt to avoid relegation in 2016, Shelvey thrived in our Championship winning season, making 47 appearances and scoring five goals.

Despite an awful start to 2017-18 which saw an opening day sending off for a petulant foul on Dele Alli, and another sending off against Everton later that season, his form remained impressive, so much so that he was heavily tipped to be included in Gareth Southgate’s 2018 World Cup squad.

That didn’t come to pass with many suspecting that Southgate was wary of Shelvey’s suspect temperament.

A poor 2018-19 season followed.

Jonjo Shelvey was rarely fit and by the time he was, Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff were so well established that he struggled for game time. He finished the season with a flourish, scoring an outstanding volley on the final day against Fulham but that was a rare high point in a series of lows.

Now fully fit and hopefully reaping the benefits of a full pre-season programme, now is the time for Shelvey to kick on once more. His performance in China in the victory over West Ham would suggest that he is getting back to something approaching his best and we’ll need his undoubted talents in what is shaping up to be a long and trying season.

At his best, he is arguably the best passer of a ball in the English game, however he needs to add more goals and assists to call himself a complete midfielder.

As always with Shelvey though, you suspect that it will be his mental conditioning rather than his physical fitness that will be key to a successful season. If he gets his head right he will unquestionably be a force to be reckoned with…but if the red mist descends once more, his career at Newcastle could be over.

This season is the time for Jonjo Shelvey to decide how he wants the rest of his career to go.

Will he go down as one of English football’s great unfulfilled talents or will he finally make the most of the ability that we all know he has.

For his sake, and ours, I hope he chooses the latter.

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