In a fascinating in-depth interview with club reporter Tom Easterby, Jonjo Shelvey has revealed just why he feels the ‘penny has finally dropped’ with him at Newcastle after some big personal battles and struggles on the pitch over this Premier League season.
As we know, Shelvey has bundles of technical ability, but questions have always remained over his recklessness and apparent unwillingness to learn from several costly moments of madness.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Shelvey had an unwanted record of more red cards than goals and assists this season. Although he didn’t have a hand in the winning goal to beat Man Utd, his all round performance was a joy to watch and, for me, without doubt his best display in a black and white shirt.
He played with a maturity and controlled aggression like we’ve not seen from him before. He was clever and considered in everything he did, being measured on the ball and in the tackle, with him and Mo Diame convincingly winning the midfield battle against the £100m plus pair of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic.
With this incredible performance in mind, here’s a snippet from Tom Easterby’s brilliant chat with Jonjo himself for NUFC.co.uk, with him providing a fascinating insight behind his struggles earlier in the season and how these personal battles have helped develop him produce the sort of measured display he did against Man Utd on Sunday:
Shelvey lists some things that makes him angry. Losing. Giving the ball away. His daughter repeatedly asking ‘why’. A bad golf shot. Not being able to play. We arrive at Spurs, this season’s opening day, when he was dismissed for treading on Dele Alli.
“I just went indoors. I had family up, but I just literally locked myself in my room. I was so disappointed in myself because I knew I’d ****** up big time. But I was more worried about what my teammates were thinking. Obviously the fans are going to have their opinions, but I felt more that I’d let my team down.
“I texted the team chat straight away as soon as I left the stadium to apologise and say I’d make it up to them on the pitch, and that I’d continue trying to do that for the rest of the season. I didn’t watch Match of the Day because I knew what people would be saying. It was more because I’d let them down and let the manager down, to be honest with you. That’s what made me feel bad.
“My dad’s quite a big critic, he’ll tell me when I’ve had a good game, when I’ve had a bad game – he’ll always be honest with me. Some of the texts he was sending me… He was upstairs in the box. He just went straight home – he didn’t even come back to the house. He just got in his car and drove straight down the A1.”
There has been a realisation this campaign..
“The penny’s sort of dropped now with me. I know what’s right and wrong, on and off the pitch, and I know what you can and can’t do. I’m just trying to stick by that every day. It’s probably taken a lot longer than what it should do to sink in, but I feel like I’m at that stage now.”
Why has that taken so long to reach that stage?
“I’ve just always tried to rely on my ability. I’ve always been able to technically play football and understand the game, and I probably thought that would always see me through. But you realise that the way football is going, you have to add other elements to your game to get to where you need to be.”
Some brilliant insight from Jonjo hear who speaks from the heart and is very open about his battles so far this season. One thing that seems clear is his honesty about his prior shortcomings and his dedication towards putting things right – something that he took a huge steps towards doing on Sunday.
It was great to see given it was the sort of game where the atmosphere and frenetic nature of the game could have seen him lose his head and do something he’d later regret (see Spurs at home on the opening day!).
As ever with Jonjo it’s all about consistency, but his feels like the biggest step yet towards him becoming the all round footballer and professional Benitez needs him to be.