Following his brilliant run of form in Rafa Benitez’s side, Jonjo Shelvey has made a bold admission about his start to life at St James’ Park, admitting he “wasn’t fit enough” when he first joined the club.
The former Swansea midfielder arrived in January 2016, with us hoping the talented £12m midfielder could save Steve McClaren’s woeful NUFC from relegation.
I was delighted to sign a player of such quality and his debut against West Ham showed us just what he was capable of, however his inconsistencies and limitations soon became clear. Two things that tend not to bode well in a relegation dogfight.
Rafa realised this, with him being benched across the final few fixtures of the 2015/16 relegation season, but his turnaround under Benitez ever since has been admirable.
There’s been some low points, but he’s got himself into shape over the summer and those efforts to improve his fitness have really come to the fore in recent months.
Here’s what he’s had to say when reflecting on his time at the club, admitting that he wasn’t fit enough when he first signed:
“When I first signed, I had a few good games and a few bad ones and to be honest, I wasn’t fit enough,”
“But now I have that sharpness back to my game, and am doing it in the Premier League, which is the highest level you can do it, so that’s what I’m pleased about.”
“When Rafa (Benitez) came to the club, he chopped and changed and I found myself out of the team,”
“But I went away that summer and got myself properly fit and came back with a totally different attitude in terms of trying to learn from him.”
Hats off the Shelvey for his honesty here.
He’s a character that so many football fans love to hate, but this really does show how he’s knuckled down under Benitez and is beginning to really mature both as a footballer and individual.
Hopefully he can keep this up. Who knows, an England call-up *might* just be his reward in the end. Either way, it’s our gain that he’s finally finding his feet at club level.