Ex-Aston Villa defender Alan Hutton has suggested that Steve Bruce’s tactics might be hindering Jonjo Shelvey at Newcastle United.
Shelvey may have scored a couple of goals this season but on the whole, his performances have been criticised by sections of fans, who are not impressed by the midfielder’s work-rate.
Hutton is a fan of the way that Shelvey moves the ball around the pitch but claims that Bruce’s 5-2-3 formation could be stopping us from seeing the best of the former Liverpool midfielder.
“He’s come in and done well, he’s been out in the cold for a long period of time and I think there’s a stigma with him that he doesn’t try and stuff like that,” Hutton told Football Insider.
“I like him as a player, I think he can be very creative as a player, his range of passing is unbelievable. Sometimes I just think the formation they play, it’s difficult. There can be gap too big between strikers and midfielders. You’re asking a lot of your players, you’re looking for something special to create a goal.
“He was very quiet, for someone of his ability he didn’t really get going against Villa.”
Shelvey is one of the most well-known players at Newcastle so his performances are always going to face a lot of scrutiny from fans and pundits, like Hutton. He does show flashes of brilliance. Even against Aston Villa in the 2-0 defeat on Monday night, Shelvey made a few really good passes in the match to show just how he really comes alive when he has the ball at his feet and team-mates in good areas. The issue for Shelvey, as Hutton points out, is that Newcastle just do not have that much time on the ball. According to stats by WhoScored, Newcastle have the lowest average possession in the league at 38.3 per cent. It is staggeringly low and players like Shelvey cannot come alive when the Magpies are playing so defensively. Rafa Benitez struggled to get the best out of Shelvey too. Maybe he needs to play for an attack-minded manager.