Why Eddie Howe believes Newcastle United star has been ‘outstanding’ in his team’s transformation
With Jamaal Lascelles unable to muscle his way back into the team following the great form of Fabian Schar and Dan Burn at the back, Shelvey has often been asked to lead the side in his absence.
And to his credit, the 30-year-old has done this well during United’s upturn in form in 2022, having put injury problems that hampered his start to the season behind him.
Since Howe’s arrival, Shelvey has missed just three games through injury and started every one of the other 19 games under new management, failing to complete 90 minutes on just two occasions in that time.
Shelvey was one player that some sections of the fan base believed would struggle to adapt to Howe’s demands when he took over from Steve Bruce, particularly the defensive side of his game.
However, Howe, speaking before his side’s trip to Carrow Road, insisted that Shelvey’s willingness to work hard in defence is one of the major reasons for his ‘outstanding’ form:
“Certainly since I have been here I have seen a real maturity in Jonjo. I’ve seen someone who is very, very focused on his football and wants to do very, very well for himself and the team.” Howe said.
“Huge talent. Huge technical talent, huge. He’s got an array of passing that I’ve not experienced before and he can see and deliver things, not just see it but deliver it as well, that not many of the players on the pitch can do.
“Defensively, I think this is the big thing for us, that defensively he has been outstanding for us.
“The amount of times he has put himself in the right position to stop a dangerous moment or he’s had to transition back, sprint back and clear a dangerous ball for us has been huge.
“So it’s a big compliment to him on that because I don’t think that has necessarily been his trademark in his game previously.
“I think if it’s maturity on the defensive side [of his game] then definitely, it’s a big positive for us and Jonjo.”
Recently, Shelvey has featured alongside Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes in the middle of a midfield three with the Brazilian’s either side of him shuttling from box-to-box.
Guimaraes’ ability on the ball has taken the pressure off Shelvey to be the main creative outlet for the Magpies and with Joelinton often a little more advanced than his compatriot, Shelvey is afforded the time and space on the ball that he craves.
These performances have seen talk of a potential contract extension on the horizon for the midfielder and even though no-one knows what the future holds for Shelvey or Newcastle United, the midfielder certainly wants to play his part in the journey:
“I’m not thick. I know this club is going to evolve and go only one way.” Shelvey told Andy Sixsmith earlier this week. “But while I’m here, I just need to keep progressing, get the manager to get the best out of me and repay that with performances. Hopefully I can be here for a good few years.”
Whatever the future holds, right now, Shelvey is one of the ingredients to success for Newcastle United.