Newcastle United midfielder Isaac Hayden has jumped to the defence of his Magpies central midfield partner Jonjo Shelvey.
The 27-year-old regularly comes under fire, as he did after his lacklustre performance against Aston Villa on Monday, but Hayden believes Shelvey’s start turn against Manchester City on Saturday was a truer reflection of his talents.
“People will always talk about Jonjo being this or being that but, at the end of the day, the group of players here know the qualities that he brings to the team,” he told The Chronicle. “It’s easy for a lot of people to talk on the sidelines, saying ‘He’s lazy’ or ‘He doesn’t do this or that enough’, but his performances show differently.
“It’s a persona thing with him maybe because he is very laid-back and chilled, but he puts a lot of effort in and he gets himself about the pitch. He’s got that bit of magic there. That’s the whole point of playing him. If everyone was the same, the team wouldn’t work.”
Hayden is absolutely spot on, here. Shelvey can be painted as a bit of a pariah at times when he doesn’t play well, which he certainly didn’t against the Villans on Monday. However, there is no doubt that he is one of the finest talents in this Newcastle team. He showed as much against the champions on Saturday. Shelvey and Hayden did a great job in the middle of the park against City’s superstars, and credit to them for that. As Hayden says, the statistics show that the former Swansea City man did a lot of dirty work on Saturday. As per WhoScored.com, the England international made two tackles, four interceptions and three clearances. Now, that’s not bad for a player who’s often accused of being lazy. And, as Hayden said, he provided that bit of magic with that terrific equaliser. That’s what you get with Shelvey, the good and the bad. On Saturday, though, it was almost all good.