Jonjo Shelvey's brilliant insight into life at Newcastle United under Eddie Howe

Newcastle United now have buying power in the transfer market – and players must buy into Eddie Howe’s methods.

Jonjo Shelvey, for one, is all-in. The long-serving midfielder – who will trigger a one-year contract extension if he plays three more games this season – is determined to be part of Howe’s plans going forward.

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As such, the 30-year-old, needing to keep pace with the likes of Bruno Guimaraes and Joe Willock, worked on his fitness in Turkey over the summer in order to be ready for the new campaign.

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“I’ve not really had a summer,” said Shelvey. “I was injured at the back end of the season, and I went away and did my rehab in Turkey and took my trainer with me. I smashed the gym.

“I didn’t do too much running, just the gym, building my legs and body up. I’m feeling the benefits from it.

“I took the missus and kids – and we stayed there for a month. We didn’t bother to come back and go somewhere else, we just stayed there for a month. It got a bit boring towards the end, but it was a good trip.”

Shelvey reported back for the start of pre-season training leaner than ever.

Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey wants to prolong his career at the club.Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey wants to prolong his career at the club.
Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey wants to prolong his career at the club.
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“I’ve lost a lot of body fat, so I definitely feel better in myself,” said Shelvey. “I’m getting the balance between eating more, so I’ve got the energy to play games. That’s something I’m learning with the sports scientist and nutritionist.”

Shelvey, facing intense competition for a starting place at the club, doesn’t want to “fall by the wayside”.

Asked what his motivation was for the extra work, Shelvey said: “I wouldn’t say it was because of players coming in – I back myself against any player – but with the way the game is going, you’ve got to get on board – or you fall by the wayside.

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

“A lot of the game is now based on stats, which may be right or wrong, but that’s the way it is – and you get on board with it.

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“If I didn’t buy into it, I’d be out the door. I want to be part of it. I back myself against anyone.

"We’ve got some great players. Since I’ve been here, it’s the strongest the squad has been – and I just want to be part of it. I want to play as many games as possible – and I back myself to do that.”

Shelvey added: “I haven’t done a pre-season in about three years. I did my calf last year.

“It isn’t until the manager coming in here that you feel proper fit. It’s just a great place to be – and we have to keep on working.”

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Shelvey hasn’t just working more on his fitness under Howe, he’s also been thinking more about the game.

Before Howe’s arrival, he admits he “just switched off” when he left the training ground.

“I wouldn’t go home and think about what we did at training,” said Shelvey, signed from Swansea City in January 2017.

“That’s something the gaffer has instilled in us. I would always go home, leave my work at work – and concentrate on the kids. Now, I’m going home thinking about what I could have done better at training. That can only help you in the future.”

The intensity of training is markedly different under Howe.

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“As soon as Eddie came in, the intensity of the sessions went through the roof,” said Shelvey. “Every drill’s set up, they all lead into each other. It’s been a breath of fresh air.

“It’s been a good week, up in the mountains (in Austria) away from everything. We’ve got a lot of work done – and it’s Portugal next.

“You know what the gaffer’s like – his sessions are very intense – and he’s on to everyone to benefit us.”

Shelvey believes that Howe has improved defensive game.

“He’s constantly on you, reviewing your game, showing you clips,” said Shelvey. “He lives and breathes football – and has instilled that into everyone at the club. It’s football, football, football.

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“He’s helped me massively defensively. I think, last year, I was really, really good defensively - and it’s not natural for me to have a defensive mind. But I feel I’ve developed a lot in that side of the game.”

The arrival of Bruno Guimaraes from Olympique Lyonnais in January raised the bar at Newcastle – and Shelvey says he has to “raise his game every day” to stay in the team.

“I know my ability – everyone knows what I can do with a football,” said Shelvey. “It’s just me keeping fit and showing the gaffer every day in training.

“Don’t get me wrong, Bruno’s a fantastic footballer, but there are going to be even more fantastic footballers joining the club.

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“You have to raise your game constantly every day – and strive to be better.”

The team, which finished 11th last season after a remarkable mid-season turnaround, is striving to do better this season.

United’s form in the second half of the campaign was up there with the teams which qualified for the Champions League.

Asked what the team’s aims were for the new season, Shelvey said: “Let’s not go there.

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“But, since we’ve been in the Premier League, we’ve finished around 12th, 13th. I think we need to have a season like West Ham did last year, fighting for Europe. Qualify for the Europa League, I feel that is the next step for this club.

“We haven’t really set a target, but we know we have to stick together – and use the team spirit from last season.

“You can see the spirit around the camp. There were so many singers around the camp after dinner (in Austria), people were actually volunteering! It’s just a great place to be at the moment.”

Shelvey added: “No, before you ask, I’m not a singer!”