Shelvey gamble paid off

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Where did that come from?

Like Clark Kent transforming from bespectacled journalist into Superman, or like Hong Kong Fuey turning from a mild mannered janitor into a kung fu master, Newcastle United shedded the dreariness that has beset them for most of this season and played West Ham off of the park on Saturday.

And while there are a number of players who deserve immense credit for a vastly improved display, you could certainly argue that there are none who should be congratulated more than Jonjo Shelvey.

Making his first start since September, the 27-year-old was magnificent on his trip to the capital, dictating play from the heart of midfield and capping things off with a stunning, if slightly fortuitous, 30 yard free kick.

Prior to the game, Sky Sports pundit Phil Thompson argued that the midfielder had to play because he offered the Magpies a new dimension, while also acknowledging that his inclusion would be something of a gamble.

Speaking on Soccer Saturday (Sky Sports News, Saturday November 2nd, 12pm), he said: “He’s got it. He’s a player who takes risks.

“I can see the downside to Jonjo, he’s maybe not the most athletic player getting about the pitch, but at times you need that risk, somebody who’s going to put that ball in.

“You’ve got to have something a little bit different.”

It’s fair to say that the gamble paid off, big style.

Goal aside, Shelvey was magnificent.

With a Whoscored rating of 8.18, plus three successful long balls, the deep-lying playmaker was always looking to spring the Hammers’ defence with a pass in behind.

That really benefited the lightning pace of Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, and having watched this match, perhaps this can be a blueprint for the Toon Army going forward.

What a performance.

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