Jonjo Shelvey has spoke out about the importance of relegation last summer, revealing just show that and the arrival of Rafa Benitez has brought the squad closer together and created such a close bond and great team spirit within the NUFC ranks.
A lot as changed since Shelvey’s arrival last January. He was signed under Steve McClaren’s regime that was a complete and utter mess, culminating in relegation, but crucially, the birth of Rafa Benitez’s new-look NUFC followed.
Here, Shelvey explains just how our year in the Championship was such a transitional period for the club, allowing Rafa and his team of fully committed players to build a new-found spirit and togetherness – something that has become the base of everything we now do well:
“Last year, I think the club needed that, to be fair – to drop down a league and get that spine back to this football club,”
“It was a good time, last year. We had a lot of fun in the team and we just tried to continue that team spirit over the summer.
“We’re always chatting on the WhatsApp group and doing dinners and things like that. There’s a great team spirit.
“Everyone in this squad works for each other – you’ll run that extra 10 yards for your team-mate, because we’ve got such a good bond.
“I think that started since Rafa came into the fold. He bought players last year that knew that league and had that team spirit and togetherness. I think that’s what got us promoted. We’ve got to keep maintaining that.”
Some brilliant anecdotes from Shelvey here, with even the little things like WhatsApp groups and squad meals out showing just how well this bunch get on – and that shows on the pitch. Despite our limitations, you can’t fault this group for a lack of effort.
The Chronicle have also revealed that the midfielder was so keen to attend the NUFC Foundation’s 125th anniversary dinner last week, claiming Jonjo was ‘eager to see those who benefit from the club’s charity’s work’, giving up his time to help such a great cause in the community.
Here’s what he said about him and his fellow squad members attending that awards night last week:
“It was nice to be asked this year to come, and I jumped at the chance to be involved,” Shelvey said at the event on Newcastle’s Exhibition Park.
“As a player, you literally come into training, train and do your gym work and then go home back to your family, so it’s nice to hear the stories [of people who are helped by the Foundation].
“The fans play a big part in this club. We get 52,000 showing up every other week to support this football club, so it’s important to get them involved and for us, as players, to attend events like this.”
Finally, Shelvey looked ahead to Saturday’s trip to Old Trafford, stating that big games like this are the reason it’s so good to have been promoted from the Championship last season:
“It’s just good to know – no disrespect to teams in the Championship – that you’ve got teams like Man United and Man City, and the Liverpools, Arsenals and Chelseas, coming to St James’ Park to play football,”
“That’s the way this club’s been for so many years. I think last year was more of a case of trying to get the job done as quick as possible so we could build for this season.
“There’s no bigger game than Man United away at Old Trafford, after all.”
A nice insight from Shelvey here. He spoke well and is clearly buying into the importance of togetherness that Benitez has drilled into the club over the past 18 months or so.
He’s not wrong either – a year in the Championship could turn out to have been a blessing for the club.
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