Jonjo Shelvey is technically gifted and a capable footballer when he wants to be, but one thing he’s never been is midfielder able to keep up with play, cover every blade of grass and cope with high-energy opposition.
Tonight we face THE most energetic Premier League side by some way in Leeds United – making this one a recipe for disaster should Shelvey start in the middle of the park.
Whether it’s down to his lack of pace, desire or mobility (or a blend of all three!), it’s becoming more and more clear that he’s a lethargic-looking luxury this limited Newcastle midfield just can’t afford to carry in times of struggle.
His body language is often so poor, he tracks back like a 20-stone block wading through treacle and he isn’t a tackler or someone likely to react to danger. If that’s 50% of our two-man midfield facing Leeds later on today, I fear we’ll be not only beaten, but beaten badly.
Playing style aside, he shouldn’t even be made to start three games in 8 days after only recently recovering from groin surgery – although it would be very like our careless head coach (who constantly bemoans injuries but rarely protects his players) to risk him!
Bruce needs 11 players ready to run themselves in the ground for him tonight, and I don’t see Shelvey being mobile enough or fit enough to do that without picking up another injury.
Some will say that Shelvey can be the difference maker and pick a pass that may expose a Leeds side who leave big gaps defensively, but when was the last time he honestly ‘unlocked the door’ or put in a midfield masterclass from a creative point of view?
If Steve Bruce really wants to turn things around and save himself from the sack at St James’ Park tonight, I’m convinced starting Jonjo Shelvey against Biela’s high-energy Leeds would be managerial suicide.