Jonjo Shelvey has been thrust into the spotlight after Paul Merson’s comments. The former Arsenal player and now Sky Sports pundit has been very vocal about Shelvey. Merson believes he has the best passing range of any player in the Premier League. The high praise from Merson hasn’t stopped Shelvey being left out by Southgate. The Newcastle midfielder will play no part in England’s friendlies on the go.
Should England be utilising Shelvey’s talents more than they are currently? There is a growing call for the Three Lions to give Shelvey an extended run.
REPORTS: The Chronicle believe #NUFC trio Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey & two time Welsh cap Paul Dummett (still eligible for England) are being monitored by Gareth Southgate despite missing out on recent call ups. pic.twitter.com/7nIIsXJ4xL
— Newcastle Fans TV (@NewcastleFansTV) March 24, 2018
Shelvey made his debut in October 2012 for England. Over the six years that have followed he has only managed six caps. Still, there are some who insist Shelvey should be included in the England team. It is thought Shelvey would add a missing element that England need going into the World Cup. Punters who bet online this World Cup with Betsafe will see that England are 18/1 to win the event. Would Shelvey in the squad mean the Three Lions stand a better chance? Separating opinion from fact may be the only way to get a clearer answer.
So far this season, Shelvey has played 24 times for Newcastle’s senior team. In those 24 games, Shelvey has recorded two assists and one goal, which came in a win against Luton in the FA Cup. Those stats don’t make for the most flattering reading. Shelvey’s contribution appears quite ordinary on paper.
What needs to be taken into account is that Shelvey has been part of quite a poor Newcastle side. The situation and football at St James’ this season hasn’t lent itself to producing the best results. The Magpies league position of 13th shows what a struggle it has been this season. Could it be that actually, Shelvey is a victim of the environment he is in? Does Southgate look to the North East and get put off picking Shelvey because of the football on show at St James’?
Bearing in mind that may be the case, it would be wise to look further back in the career of Jonjo Shelvey. His most fruitful spell in the Premier League had to be for Swansea City. During his 96 appearances for the Swans, he recorded 10 goals and 18 assists. Life at Liverpool was less productive with seven goals and four assists in 69 games. In total, throughout Shelvey’s travelled career in English football, he has played 321 games. In those games, he has scored 42 goals and registered 49 assists. It is worth taking into consideration that those stats are a bit misleading. 19 goals and 10 assists were whilst playing for Blackpool, Charlton and Liverpool’s U23’s.
On that information, it is a fair assumption that Shelvey isn’t a prolific scorer or provider of goals. In truth, that isn’t his entire remit as a midfielder. Which brings the debate back to his passing range. This seems to be the go-to point for those pining for Shelvey to get a pick in the England team. Chris Waddle made the same argument in October last year. Does it really stack up?
An up to date table of the players who have completed the most passes this season tells a different story. Nicolas Otamendi is the player with the most completed passes in the Premier League with 2464. It is no surprise Otamendi holds top spot given Guardiola’s insistence on a passing game.
Second place is Granit Xhaka with 2134, 10th place is Eric Dier with 1714. Moving down the table Jack Cork is in 50th position with 963. All the way down in 100th position is Roberto Firmino with 680 completed passes. Where then does Shelvey come in?
The Newcastle midfielder is in 109th position in the table. Shelvey has made 646 successful passes so far this season. Having the ability to pass the ball long range is handy but not enough to justify an England call-up.
Most of those completed passes at the top would have been to players no more than a few feet away. That said, it is the willingness of those players to work as hard as they can to ensure the ball is always moving. England can’t afford a passenger who may be able to make 3 out of 10 long passes during a game. As spectacular as they may look across the field there is no value in it. At present Southgate is focusing on keeping the ball. As it stands, Shelvey doesn’t do enough of that.
— Newcastle Fans TV (@NewcastleFansTV) November 11, 2017
If the answer to England’s creative problems is Shelvey, then the wrong questions are being asked. No one can doubt Shelvey’s game-changing abilities and creative flair. It is the lack of end product and a meaningful contribution that are his downfalls. At 26 there is still time to become a more rounded player. Picking Shelvey now for England doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense no matter how you look at it.