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Opinion

Jonjo Shelvey thrown under a bus by his boss

5 months ago
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Steve Bruce made Jonjo Shelvey his key man when he arrived.

Appointed in July 2019, Steve Bruce changed the team formation to accommodate his main man.

The new NUFC Head Coach giving Jonjo Shelvey a free role as an attacking midfielder, with minimal / no defensive responsibilities.

That Steve Bruce master plan for the 2019/20 season lasted exactly two matches.

A 1-0 defeat at home to Arsenal and a 3-1 loss that could have been five or six at Norwich where Newcastle’s midfield was completely overrun, saw Steve Bruce drop both the new formation and Jonjo Shelvey. The next game, Sean Longstaff came into the midfield in place of Shelvey and Newcastle won 1-0 at Tottenham.

However, with Jonjo Shelvey being a big favourite of Steve Bruce’s, it was only a matter of time before he found a way to get him back into the first team.

Moving forward to this current season and once again Steve Bruce has looked to make Jonjo Shelvey his main man.

Newcastle fans finding it quite astonishing that Steve Bruce is happy to hand over control of central midfield match after match, allowing Jonjo Shelvey to stroll about close to the centre-backs, making minimal effort to get about the pitch and try and influence things. Instead hitting long pass after long pass which have a minimal success rate, even if the ball reaches its target, that player in a forward position almost always outnumbered and easily dealt with.

Incredibly, the Head Coach even making Jonjo Shelvey captain in the absence of Jamaal Lascelles.

Steve Bruce has now been talking about his main man ahead of the West Ham match and in the process accidentally thrown him under a bus…

“Jonjo Shelvey is a very good footballer and when he plays well the team play well.

“It is quite simple.

“We hope he has a big influence over the next five or six games with his experience and what he’s got.

“He is very important to us, of course he is.”

So…when Jonjo Shelvey plays well, Newcastle United play well?

Right, so how many times have Newcastle played well this 2020/21 Premier League season?

The stand out match for me was actually the very first one of the season. Newcastle scored with their only two efforts on target but both Jonjo Shelvey and Andy Carroll were given the freedom of the London Stadium. West Ham were phenomenally bad that day, quite incredibly so when you consider what they have gone on to do this season.

The very next match after that saw a rude awakening for Steve Bruce, Jonjo Shelvey and Andy Carroll. Brighton came to St James Park, totally dominated – especially central midfield, the Seagulls won 3-0 but it could / should have been five or six or more. Carroll subbed at half-time for Almiron, Shelvey hauled off after 72 minutes for Joelinton.

I struggle to remember many games where Jonjo Shelvey, or indeed Newcastle as a team, have played particularly well this season.

For me, Shelvey is such a liability and it means Newcastle don’t even try and compete in midfield, it is almost impossible for NUFC to play to any great level on any kind of regular basis.

Jonjo Shelvey has only scored one PL goal this season and that was a very rare excursion up the pitch, seeing Newcastle take the lead very early against Palace, yet go on to lose 2-1 with a pedestrian Shelvey helping to ensure that defeat.

Only two assists in the Premier League this season for Jonjo Shelvey and that is shocking, though not exactly a new thing, his three previous PL seasons at Newcastle United only producing two assists in 2019/20, one in 2018/19, three in 2017/18. No wonder Rafa Benitez totally sidelined him in the end and was going to move him out of St James Park, only for Rafa himself to be forced out and Steve Bruce to come in and make Shelvey the main man!

When Jonjo Shelvey is interviewed, it is always very apparent that he has no self-awareness either, he quite clearly shares Bruce’s belief that he is a superstar midfielder who does a great job for Newcastle United.

In the real world though…

So, yes, for once I will agree with Steve Bruce.

Newcastle United do play well when Jonjo Shelvey plays well.

However, none of us can predict when these spectacular two or three times a season events are going to happen.

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