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Opinion

Jonjo Shelvey injury is…unfortunate but could force Steve Bruce into essential change

1 month ago
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Fair to say that Steve Bruce and the Newcastle United fanbase have had differing ideas this season.

I would never claim to speak for all Newcastle fans BUT I think I am on pretty safe ground on this one, in terms of reflecting what the vast majority of NUFC supporters are thinking / saying.

Steve Bruce with negative boring team selections and tactics in the Premier League matches so far, leaving the side with minimal attacking threat but ever worsening problems at the back.

By handing total control to the opposition, Bruce with his negative tactics of ordering the whole team to defend so deep, has ensured that Karl Darlow’s goal has seen a serious number of shots aimed in that direction.

More than any other Premier League club, already there has been 83 shots in only the five matches, with 28 alone against a pretty rubbish Man Utd side last weekend, who Steve Bruce managed to make look like 1970 Brazil at times.

Steve Bruce talked afterwards about Man Utd’s fearsome attacking threat, yet they were missing a lot of their best players and five of the six midfielders and forwards were in the same side that lost tamely to Matty Longstaff’s strike a year ago.

Yes there is a lot of talent in the Premier League and many progressive managers having their teams playing really attractive football BUT the last thing we need is Steve Bruce helping to ensure that pretty much every opposition team looks good going forward when they play Newcastle.

On Sunday morning it has been revealed that Jonjo Shelvey has a groin injury and is set to be missing today, as well as potentially a number of other games.

It was also revealed, by dafty Steve Bruce himself, that Shelvey has had this problem for a while but he (Bruce) has continued to play him regardless, until now, when he says it is impossible for the midfielder to physically continue.

I will leave it to others to discuss the never ending Bruce stupidity in terms of dealing with the injury situation. Instead I want to look at a positive silver lining that Shelvey’s injury could hopefully produce.

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I hold my hands up and say I wouldn’t have Jonjo Shelvey in the team regardless.

To me, he stifles any real chance of the team playing better football, apart from those few times a season when he is really up for it and takes control of the game.

Otherwise, he simply tends to want to stand as close to the centre-backs as possible, take five yard passes, then try to hit seventy yard Hollywood style passes, that might look good to some, but even if reaching that target (Callum Wilson etc), he will find himself isolated and totally outnumbered.

Steve Bruce has made that problem even worse in terms of lack of help from midfield in the attacking areas, by also playing Jeff Hendrick. Totally out of character (nine goals and five assists in four PL seasons at Burnley), he was in right place right time to get an assist and goal at West Ham, but in the four matches since has contributed all but nothing going forward, every time he gets the ball he looks to go backwards.

If Shelvey is injured then at least something has to change.

Assuming Isaac Hayden is fit, the hope must be that Sean Longstaff will come in alongside him. This will give Newcastle the chance of a far more mobile and dynamic midfield partnership that can press the opposition more and create more of  platform for attacking. Hendrick could potentially play in the middle instead which wouldn’t be the end of the world but hopefully not play all three of these midfielders. It would still be an improvement on having Shelvey in the team but even better if a space is freed up by playing only two of this trio.

Fans have wanted Almiron and Fraser in the starting eleven and surely Shelvey’s absence will have the knock on effect of at least one of them playing today, probably Almiron.

We live in hope of course of the total transformation, the dropping of Joelinton allowing a trio of Almiron, ASM and Fraser to operate behind and around Wilson, with two central midfielders between them and the back four.

Not forgetting of course at the back to get Manquillo back in, instead of Krafth who is not up to the job.

Jonjo Shelvey’s absence gives me hope but with Steve Bruce that can be quickly stamped out. I still wouldn’t put it past him going with a five man midfield today of Joelinton, Hendrick, Hayden, Sean Longstaff and Schar!

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