Jonjo Shelvey vows to get nasty and scrap for Newcastle's survival
Jonjo Shelvey's vowed to bring a nasty streak to Newcastle United's midfield and help the club tackle its Premier League position.
Shelvey arrived from Swansea City this week in a £12million deal.
And the midfielder was set to make his debut in this afternoon’s home game against West Ham United.
Newcastle, like Swansea, are battling against the threat of relegation.
Steve McClaren’s side are 19th in the league and a point adrift of safety.
Shelvey, however, didn’t think it was a career risk swapping the Liberty Stadium for St James’s Park.
The 23-year-old said: “Not really – the club I’ve just left are also lingering around the relegation zone.
“So it was a no-brainer in terms of playing.
“People probably expect Swansea to stay up more than Newcastle, but this squad is just as good if not better than Swansea’s. I don’t want to think negative about where they are.
“I’m here to help keep us up.”
Shelvey is likely to replace tough-tackling Cheick Tiote, set to sign for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, in McClaren’s starting XI.
And the Londoner, a West Ham fan as a boy, has vowed to go in where it hurts in midfield.
“If the ball is there to be won, then I won’t back out of a challenge, although I won’t go around booting people,” said Shelvey, who has also played for Liverpool and Charlton Athletic.
“I’ll put my foot in and be a leader and get the team going. If the fans see that, then they’ll get behind us.
“That’s what they’ll get from me.”
Alan Curtis, Swansea’s interim manager, criticised Shelvey’s attiude in the last few weeks of his time at the Liberty Stadium.
And Shelvey – who been marginalised by Curtis – was involved in a verbal exchange with fans after last weekend’s FA Cup defeat to Oxford United.
Asked if the criticism had hurt him, Shelvey said: “Yes, it does hurt you.
“Not many people know you as a person. They just see what has been written, you can’t judge someone until you know them.
“Even at Swansea there were a lot of rumours going around without people knowing what was going on behind the scenes.
“I should have come out and said what was going on, but there was no point. I’m not dissing the club because I had two-and-a-half great years there and I played a lot of games.
“I’m a very lucky boy that Newcastle have offered me a way out.”
Asked if he had spoken to Curtis, Shelvey added: “He would just say that ‘you don’t suit Swansea’s style of play’, that players had been doing well – yet they hadn’t won for a few weeks.
“I knew I wasn’t going to play, so I needed to get myself out of there.
“When he finally got the job (until the end of the season), I knew I wasn’t going to get my games. It was the right decision to leave.”
Shelvey, having had a frustrating two months at Swansea, is keen to get out on the pitch so he can start justifying his price tag.
“Newcastle have paid quite a bit of money for me, so it’s only right that I go out there and justify the price tag,” he said.
“There have been a number of world-class players here, and it’s an honour to come here and play for this great football club.
“It’s down to me now to kick on and show the fans what I can do.”
Shelvey has the added motivation of winning a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016.
“I have been a bit inconsistent,” he said. “I probably have three or four good games and then a bad game.
“But I can’t afford to do that now, I need to kick on.
“You are going to have a bad game – that does happen – but I need to knuckle down now and get my mind and body right, and hopefully get in the Euro 2016 squad.
“I’ve been in every (England) squad this season, but if you’re not playing at your club then you don’t expect to get picked.”
Shelvey – who yesterday faced the media with midfielder Henri Saivet, his fellow new signing – has been watching Newcastle’s games since late last year.
And he has seen enough to believe the club can stay up.
“I have always admired Newcastle – it’s a great club and great city,” said Shelvey.
“I have only started to watch Newcastle the past couple of months, once the rumours start about coming here.
“I was picking up little things. I’ve watched the last few games and they were battering teams, just not scoring, they’ve been unlucky.
“But with me, Henri and a couple of new signings, we can stay up.”