Jonjo Shelvey has given a revealing insight into his early season struggles, explaining just how he and Rafa Benitez reacted to his costly moment of madness in the opening day defeat to Tottenham.
While it would’ve been a struggle to contain Spurs with 11 men, Shelvey’s red card was a real blow, derailing any plan Benitez put in place to gain a positive result from the game.
In a big interview on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, Shelvey started by explaining just how the aftermath of the incident impacted on him on a personal level:
“(It) was the turning point in the season for me as I knew how I felt after that Tottenham game, I did not really want to play football to be honest.
“I locked myself in my room because I did not want to speak to anyone, including my family. I just switched my phone off and turned my TV off and that was me for the rest of the night.
“But then you get that feeling after the Liverpool game where you are buzzing because you played well and assisted the goal.
“There are going to be ups and downs in football, you just have to make sure there are more ups than downs.
“My dad gave me a telling-off after the game. And I would not come out of the changing rooms until we left to go home because I felt that bad and that I had let everyone down, which I had.
“But the main people that I had to get back onside were my manager, my team-mates and the supporters of the football club. That is my aim and that is what I am going to try and do.
“I sent Rafa a text after the game when I was on my way home really apologising. The next day I came in and we had a little chat and it was forgotten about.
“I said I was going to work my socks off to regain your and the club’s trust. And that is what I am working towards still.”
Admirable honesty from Jonjo, who clearly felt responsible for our defeat that day – and rightly so.
He then explained how Rafa reacted after the game, admitting that he is thankful for how it was handled, believing that his career could’ve have taken a turn for the worse if he had not returned to the team with a different mind-set:
“He had a go at me after the Tottenham game, which was right to be honest. It was a stupid mistake and we have now drawn a line under it.
“I feel like the last four or five games, I have come back in a totally different mind-set. I know for a fact that had I not come back with a different mind-set, then my career would probably only go one way and I did not want that.
“I feel that the last five or six games, teams do try and provoke you because they know they may get a reaction out of you. And it has happened the last five or six weeks, but I just seem to block it out. So fingers crossed, it keeps happening.”
Finally, Shelvey then offered a fascinating insight into what it’s like to play under the Spaniard, admitting that you won’t play for him if you are not capable of listening to his meticulous instructions:
“He is very detailed in the way he works and if something is not right, then you will be made to do it again and do it again which for us is very beneficial because you are constantly learning. And if you do not listen, then you are not going to play with Rafa.
“You have to take it on board and learn very quickly. You can tell that in the way we have set up this year and how well drilled and organised we are. And this is a credit to Rafa and his coaching staff.
“First and foremost (he works) on the work-rate side of the game – obviously to play in that way, you need to be able to work as hard as possible. And I have done this over the past season and a bit.
“Tactically, he has got me a lot better than what I used to be, but there is obviously still a lot of room for improvement.
“It is just about taking in everything he says and learning off one of the greatest managers of this current era.
“He just gives an aura when he comes into the room, everyone shuts up and listens to him. A manager needs that and he has that in abundance.”
An incredibly honest and open interview from Jonjo here.
Hopefully he can continue to learn from his mistakes and develop his all round game under Rafa’s guidance.
If he can’t do it under Benitez’s guidance, he never will.