This is what Jonjo Shelvey needs to understand about Newcastle United criticism
It was going to take something special to get Newcastle United back into the game against Newport County at Rodney Parade.
Trailing to Tristan Abrahams’ early strike, Steve Bruce’s side looked to be going out of the Carabao Cup last night.
“I didnt think, the way it was going, we’d get the breakthrough,” said Bruce.
Then, three minutes from the end of normal time, Jonjo Shelvey took the ball inside the area.
Shelvey went one way then the next, and a slip from Ryan Taylor gave him space to take the ball on his right foot. The midfielder, on the left side of goal, whipped a superb shot into the top right-hand corner.
The goal will have got fans watching on TV back on Tyneside off their sofas.
There were no supporters inside the stadium, of course, so Shelvey ran to the near-empty Hazell Stand, which was housing a few dozen journalists.
Shelvey cupped his ears and made a “shhh” gesture as he ran up the touchline and looked up towards the socially-distanced press benches.
“Shelvey equalises with a great curling shot and then runs to the stand where the journalists are sitting cupping his ears, as if he has already heard all the terrible things we’ve been tweeting about him,” tweeted The Athletic writer George Caulkin.
Shelvey – who had missed a tackle in the build-up to Abrahams’ goal – had been disappointing up to then. And so had Newcastle, who went on to win 5-4 on penalties to reach the last eight of the competition.
Maybe the 28-year-old had made the gesture towards the press box in the belief that some of criticism of the team in the media this season has been over the top.
Bruce himself, while acknowledging that some of his team’s performances haven’t been good enough, has found tactical criticism “disappointing”.
Shelvey’s quite entitled to that opinion, but what he must understand is that most of the criticism in the media has been mild compared to that which has come from fans themselves. Some have gone in a lot harder on Bruce and his team.
Still, Newcastle are through to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, and a win over Burnley at St James’s Park on Saturday night would mean the club has made a solid start, in terms of points gained, from its first four Premier League fixtures.
“If we beat Burnley it’ll be a great start, (from) the first four games to have seven points,” Shelvey told NUFC TV.
“I know we’ve probably not been pretty on the eye, but it’s obviously a work in progress. We’re going to keep trying, keep trying to pass the ball and trying to entertain the fans at home.
“We got through. That’s the main thing. Sometimes you have to win ugly.”
Shelvey’s right. It is a work in progress, and fans – and journalists – will be watching closely for more progress over the coming weeks.
Bruce is fortunate to have a talented, committed and hard-working group of players at United – and supporters want to see the club’s head coach getting the most out of them, both individually and collectively.