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Some may call him talented, some may call him eccentric but one cannot deny that Jonjo Shelvey is one of the most entertaining footballers of all time. His contributions often oscillate between sublime and crazy but his impact remains constant for Newcastle United. He is understood to have fractured his hand while training, which could see him be sidelined for a while until he recovers. The Magpies, meanwhile, will undoubtedly miss him on the field.
Shelvey is a lot more than simply being a novelty player. He’s probably one of the most gifted players in the league with a penchant for long-range passing – a prime example being his through-ball for Joselu’s finish against Liverpool recently.
When Shelvey receives possession, he almost immediately searches for potential diagonal balls. Its almost as if a short sideways pass is always his back-up option, rather than being a part of his immediate instinct. He’s also naturally a direct runner, pushing forward whenever possible to involve himself in attacking moves rather than simply holding his midfield position.
Rafa Benitez has revamped Newcastle to quite an extent and much of their success depend largely on the midfield with Shelvey being crucial.
However, there is one thing Newcastle probably may not miss in his absence – and that being his erratic behaviour on field. Last year, he was sent off for kicking out at an opponent. This season, he stamped on Dele Alli in Newcastle’s opening game, and it just feels like this unpredictability is on a never-ending loop.
It is almost baffling when one considers how he has managed to establish himself as a top midfielder, despite his antics. He spent two-and-a-half years at Swansea City, where short passing, patient possession, and good positional discipline were given priority.
Shelvey was a maverick of sorts back there. Now he’s playing under Benitez, a classic example of a manager who loves structure and organization. Yet, Shelvey remains prone to moments of madness and often ends up playing cross-field passes that may be considered wasteful.
In that sense, Shelvey is perhaps a typical British player in the Premier League. Even Aaron Ramsey has often shocked spectators with his lack of positional awareness for Arsenal. Both Shelvey and Ramsey gravitate towards playing in an energetic manner, while sparing little towards structure.
Having said that, that’s again the main reason behind the beauty of Shelvey’s style of play – the sheer rebellious nature, the unpredictability, the brilliance and the erratic moments all combine to deliver a satisfying player on field. In mid-table teams, very few players provide entertainment during their matches to lure viewers and spectators – and Shelvey is certainly one of them.