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Opinion

Are Newcastle United Jonjo Shelvey dependent this season?

4 days ago
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This team looks like it depends on Jonjo Shelvey and hopefully he’s up for the challenge.

Rafa didn’t seem to fancy him last year but he’ll have to be the main man under Steve Bruce.

Subbed off with a knock, losing the bald aerodynamic midfielder really did take the wind out of our sails.

It’s too early to get overly critical of Steve Bruce but the lack of the closest replacement for Shelvey on the bench in the form of Ki looked a big oversight.

From the opening 54 mins of football Shelvey seemed the pivot in the team.

You could argue the goal was less likely to have been scored were he on the pitch.

Being the midfield outlet for Dummett to find, rather than the lazy ball out wide to a flatfooted Willems and we’re opened like a packet of crisps.

Hammering the woodwork in the first half showed his goal threat and ability that our other midfielders sadly lack. Hayden and Ritchie looked busy but are pretty non-threatening. Longstaff on this occasion was fairly anonymous as an attacking threat.

When you compare and contrast our midfield, Shelvey makes an average of 42 passes a match, that’s around 10 more on average than any of our other midfielders.

Over the last two seasons he averages seven accurate long passes a game. He dwarfs our other midfielders in terms of through balls.

The surprising thing is also the high number of recoveries he makes for a passing midfielder…still right up there with the tenacious Ritchie and Hayden. That passing rhythm and bite were sorely missed for the remainder of the game.

Without Shelvey on the pitch the creativity was left to Saint-Maximin and Almiron, while both talents, their game is running with the ball. No matter how quick they run they can’t move as quick as a Shelvey long pass.

Newcastle’s speed in defence to attack noticeably slowed once the change had been made. Saint-Maximin and Almiron should be the lads running onto Shelvey’s passes (remember those through balls) so they only have to beat one man, not three or four as it became, as the game wore on.

Hope he’s back next game.

If Jonjo Shelvey has a good season so will we. We need his passing, nous and guts.

As Sir Alex Ferguson once said of Jonjo Shelvey ‘he’s got a bit of balls about him’. This Newcastle team certainly need that.

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