Jonjo Shelvey's future at Newcastle United discussed
Jonjo Shelvey started his first Newcastle United game since September with a match-winning performance at West Ham United.
Here our writers Liam Kennedy and Jordan Cronin give their thoughts on the England midfielder, assessing if his run in the starting 11 will continue, how it impacts the Longstaff brothers and potential January movement.
Were you surprised by Jonjo Shelvey's standout performance against West Ham?
LK: "Yes. And no. He's got that kind of performance in his locker but they are rare. Far too rare really. We have all seen exactly how good Shelvey can be in black and white, but we are yet to see him but in a real consistent run of performances, bar the second half of the season in 2017/18. Those performances came with a glimmer of hope of an England spot at the World Cup. Hopefully fighting for a place in United's team is motivation enough for Shelvey this season."
JC: “Not at all. There was a lot of talk in the build-up to West Ham’s high line and playing Shelvey was a brilliant call by Steve Bruce. His ability can never be doubted, he is one of the best passers of the ball in England. The challenge now is to nail down his place and use Saturday’s performance as the benchmark. It needs to become a consistent theme and hopefully, a run of games will see him rediscover him from previous seasons.”
How much food for thought has that given Steve Bruce?
LK: "Let's be fair to Bruce - he played an absolute blinder on Saturday. His hunch was that Shelvey would produce the goods against 'his team' and he was spot on. The big question for Shelvey and for Bruce, is whether the player can stay in the side with some match-winning shows. He's got the ability, has he got the application and drive?"
JC: “Bruce will be fully aware of Shelvey’s ability but I think it all depends on his next few showings. He’ll likely start against Bournemouth and Bruce will demand another standout performance. Shelvey needs to put the questions surrounding his consistency to bed and show he can be main man in United’s midfield - as he did in Rafa Benitez’s first two seasons. The next few games are crucial.”
Can you see Shelvey retaining his place against Bournemouth and months to come?
LK: "With Sean Longstaff out for another two games - and a long-established good understanding with Isaac Hayden - I think Shelvey is certain to continue against Bournemouth. These are the type of games Shelvey should really be making an impression on. He has to want the ball and dictate the tempo. That's when he's at his very best."
JC: “With Sean Longstaff banned for the next two games and perhaps Matty needing to be taken away from the limelight, this is a real chance for Shelvey to remain in the side and form a partnership with Isaac Hayden. The two have played together before. They know exactly what each other are about. It has all the makings on an established partnership but the pressure is on Shelvey to replicate a similar performance to West Ham in the coming weeks.”
Would you accept Shelvey's place in the team if that means benching the Longstaff brothers i.e. harming their development?
LK: "I think taking Matty Longstaff out of the Newcastle starting XI was the perfect move by manager Bruce. Having burst on the scene against Manchester United and given a good account of himself at Chelsea, I thought Wolves passed him by a little. He's a young player with a lot of talent, but it is a big ask for him to produce every week in the top flight. The same goes for brother Sean Longstaff. He has struggled a bit at times this season and a spell to recover and recoup could be just what the doctor ordered, after a long-term injury last season."
JC: “It’d be fantastic to see two Geordies bossing the midfield in the Premier League but Bruce will only have one thing on his mind, and that is survival. Shelvey provides quality none of United’s midfielders possess. That said, if he isn’t showing that quality most weeks, then there is no point in having him in the team because he does have a tenancy to drift through games. Bruce has to be careful, though, with the brothers’ contracts to consider.”
Looking ahead to January, will Shelvey remain a Newcastle United player?
LK: "West Ham, his club, never seem to go away. I think he will end up there one day but January could well prove a little too soon. The summer is more likely."
JC: “Talk of a new contract would suggest Shelvey will stay but January can be very unpredictable. I can only see him joining one club and that is West Ham. It could work both ways, Shelvey could play out his skin and the Hammers could table a bid. He could also continue to sit on the bench and Manuel Pellegrini may opt to rescue him. The West Ham link will never go away but my overall feeling is that he will stay put.”