Newcastle United supporters always knew that Jonjo Shelvey was something of an influential player for the club. Long passes, bags of assists and the occasional stunning goal. However, when he became absent due to an FA ban that lasted five games, it became apparent just how vital the midfielder is to the Magpies.
Since the 23 year rejoining the starting 11 in 2017 United have recovered their minor slide while simultaneously playing a higher level of football.
Shelvey spoke to NUFC TV to discuss a series of topics, but mostly looking to the future.
Manager Rafa Benitez made it obvious that his priority was still the Championship when he rested Shelvey via leaving him on the bench in the Toon's FA Cup clash. Ultimately, the weakened side faltered and lost 3-0 to League One side Oxford United.
Shelvey commented on the defeat without representing the team, as he said: “I don’t know what people’s take is on being out of the FA Cup. But I wanted to stay in it,"
“It’s a chance to play at Wembley and it would have been great for this club and get a cup run," the midfielder added.
The disappointment of the loss did not hang on the lips of Shelvey for too long as he offered an alternative view: “On the other hand we’ve got the league and we are right up there, we need to get promoted."
Promotion equates to success
Following on from Shelvey's comments regarding their Championship ambitions, the London native's voice shifted to an almost sombre and stern tone: “If we don’t get promoted it’ll be seen as a big failure to me personally and to this club and everyone in that changing room."
In further elaborating his appoint, the number 12 referred to the upcoming fixture, “That is the main priority so we need to dust ourselves down and go out and put a show on this Wednesday night. It is very important that we get back to winning ways."
He added, “It was a bad result at the weekend but I think we have to draw a line under it and learn from it and move on."
Realistically assessing QPR
The next fixture will see Queen's Park Rangers make the midweek journey to St James' Park. Last time the two teams met it was a humid Tuesday evening in West London, and Newcastle thrashed the Rs emphatically.
Shelvey was instrumental to that glorious win, including a 30-yard strike. When asked about whether there will be a repetition of the scoreline, the midfielder was modest and realistic: “It would be nice but it will probably be a different game."
He expanded, “most teams sit back up here and we try to break them down. But I am sure we can do it and get back to winning ways.”
Man marking frustration
It is not just those involved with Newcastle who have noticed Shelvey's impact and that has found himself caught up in some man marking. Particular evident when Rotherham paid a visit to the North East and Will Vaulks monitored the
Shelvey gave his account of the: “I’m not going to lie, it’s obviously frustrating but if anything it’s a compliment when teams put one or two players on you."
He joked, “I stood there against Rotherham and tied my shoe laces at one stage and he (Vaulks) stood with me. I was having some banter with him and I said if I went to the toilet during the game he’d probably come with me!"
The midfielder, as usual, put a positive spin on the tactic: “But it’s a compliment and it frees up other players on our team to go and do their things. The one time he left me I put the ball to Yedlin for the goal." He added, “Their manager came and apologised to me after the game because of the way they played."
Since The Magpies are one of the top teams in the second tier it has involved a lot of defensive strategies from the lower calibre team. Shelvey spoke out against this: “I’m not a big fan of teams just sitting back. I’d rather they came here and took the game to us because they’ve got more chance of getting something out of the game themselves."
He concluded, “That’s just the way it is in this league and it’ll be different if we go up."