Player Insights: Jonjo Shelvey

Welcome back to another edition of Player Insights, where we take a detailed look at the players in our squad. Thanks to those who voted in our recent Twitter Poll, deciding you want to see Jonjo Shelvey feature in this weeks episode!

Early Career

Jonjo Shelvey grew up in Romford, a large town in East London. His family lived on a council estate which was not the ideal location for a childhood, with high levels of crime and violence adding further obstacles to his path in becoming a professional footballer.

Jonjo has previously claimed that his older brother George was a better football out of the pair, however the distraction of drinking and partying derailed his potential career.

As a teenager Jonjo had trials at both Arsenal, and the club he supported, West Ham. He was unsuccessful in both these occasions, however at the age of 14 he signed for Charlton Athletic.

Three years after being on the books for Charlton, Shelvey had a breakthrough season for the Under-18 side, scoring 14 goals in 23 appearances across the 2007/08 season. He was rewarded for his fine performances in the youth team with a senior debut awarded by Alan Pardew.

Jonjo Shelvey still had a week left in school as he broke the record for becoming Charltons youngest ever player to represent the first team at just 16 years and 59 days.

Jonjo Shelvey playing for Charlton Athletic after being handed his debut by future Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew

At a young age it was clear he had the potential to dictate games from the middle of the park. His long range passing ability was developing game by game while the vision he possessed for such a young player was simply excellent. Although Charlton were competing in the English second division, there was little doubt that Shelvey would look out of place in the Premier League.

The Englishman went on to appear 42 times for the team, scoring 7 goals before a Premier League team, Liverpool, secured his signature.

He signed for Liverpool for a fee of around £1.7 million and featured briefly in Cup and European fixtures during his debut season. The Merseyside club then decided to loan out the midfielder in search for more game time, resulting in a loan spell at Blackpool.

This spell turned out to be very successful, but also very short as Shelvey scored on his debut while also scoring his first competitive hatrick against Leeds a few months later, before being recalled to Liverpool due to injuries to both Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva.

He went on to make 47 appearances for the club, scoring 3 goals including a 30 yard strike against Chelsea, however his career in Merseyside never really reached the expected heights.

Jonjo Shelvey representing Liverpool in the Premier League

With Steven Gerrard returning from injury there was no real place for Shelvey in the starting lineup. This was in no way a criticism of Jonjo, but if he wanted regular football to continue his development then a move was required.

This was when a move to Swansea materialised for the Englishman, signing a four year deal with the Welsh club for £5 million, earning the Merseyside club just over £3 million profit in the process.

The switch was not a quiet one for Shelvey, as just 2 months later the ‘Jonjo Shelvey Derby’ was played out in the Premier League between his current, and former club. Shelvey had a hand in all four goals during the 2-2 draw. He scored his debut Swans goal in the match, while also setting up the inform Michu to grab the other. This brilliant attacking display was however overshadowed by gifting Liverpool the ball on two occasions which allowed Daniel Sturridge and Victor Moses to notch for Liverpool.

Jonjo Shelvey received a fair share of criticism while playing for Swansea but developed into an experienced Premier League midfielder

During Jonjo’s 3 seasons for the Swans, he accumulated 79 appearances and 10 goals. In general it was obvious that Shelvey had talent but his workrate and disciplinary issues always disrupted his consistency. Former Swansea manager Gary Monk warned the Englishman to ‘wise up’ to prevent collecting so many bookings through ‘laziness’.

His spell at the Welsh club ended sourly, the final match being a 3-2 loss to League 2 team Oxford United in the FA Cup. Frustrations rose high after the final whistle, resulting in Shelvey confronting fans.

The midfielder had been on Newcastle’s radar for a while, but just 2 days after the FA Cup fixture, Jonjo Shelvey was revealed on Tyneside.

Life at Newcastle

The start to his career in the North East couldn’t have gone much better. Coming into a team winless in the last 7 games, Shelvey put in a man of the match display to earn Newcastle a much needed 2-1 win. For those who watched the game, you will remember the long range passing he demonstrated in the match, one of his many passes was a 50-yard ball out to Janmaat on the wing who simply played the ball across the goal line allowing Wijnaldum to tap it in.

Jonjo Shelvey starred brilliantly in a 2-1 win on his debut for the club

During the end of the torrid season on Tyneside, Shelvey was made captain after Coloccini suffered injury, but the campaign eventually resulted in relegation.

While in the Championship, Shelvey looked a class apart, and formed a formidable partnership with Dwight Gayle, allowing the striker to feed off the long-range passes in behind defences. As standard with Shelvey, the season did not pass by without controversy, as he received a 5 game ban and £100,00 fine for racially abusing Wolves player Roamin Saiss.

Throughout the course of the Championship campaign Shelvey made 47 appearances for the Magpies, appearing on the scoresheet 5 times. The goal he scored against QPR, bending the ball into the top corner from outside the box underlined his quality.

Back in the Premier League Shelvey is yet to find a level of consistency, but has provided the Toon Army with some memorable moments. His long-range passing ability is a unique asset among our squad, while he has begun to add goals to his game throughout the current campaign.

The most notable moments this season come in the shape of goals against Sheffield United and Manchester City. As we travelled to Sheffield to face the team fifth in the league the odds were against us, but following the new offside rules implemented by the Premier League, Newcastle came out on top.

Shelvey received the ball while on the shoulder of the last defender, while the defence and goalkeeper stopped play, the 6 foot midelfier played on, knocking the ball into the net. After a lengthy VAR review, it was decided the goal stood!

Jonjo Shelvey is Newcastle’s top-scorer in the Premier league this season with 5 goals

The other memorable moment came against the Champions. In the dying moments against Manchester City, with the team in black and white trailing 2-1, a set piece was rolled to Shelvey on the edge of the box. He connected with the ball so well, managing to curl a shot past Ederson from outside the box, snatching a surprise point for the Magpies and causing SJP to erupt.

What the future may hold

With the Takeover almost guaranteed at this stage, Shelvey’s future has two very different paths. Firstly, he could add a new level to his game. With the potential influx of world class players coming to Tyneside, the passing ability in Shelvey’s locker could be pivotal in our attacking play. On the other hand, if Shelvey continues to put in inconsistent performances, he may lose his position to a potential replacement and be on his way out of SJP.

At the end of the day, it is up to Shelvey to prove to our future manager, whoever that may be, that he can be trusted to consistently perform in the Premier League.

I would personally like to see Shelvey remain in the North East for the foreseeable future. He is a player which I genuinely enjoy watching. I believe he can provide a great source of creativity, which with a ruthless striker leading the line, could be used to devastating effect.

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