Jonjo Shelvey may not be the hero we desire, but he could be the hero we deserve. Or at least, what Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli deserves, the diving prat.
Sure, Jonjo was booted from the opening match of the season and saw a three match ban afterwards, but to be fair, who doesn't want to have a kick at Dele? Shelvey has this gritty facade, a weathered exterior about him that just screams West Ham United. On his day, he’s a top flight midfielder that can wreak havoc on an opponent’s defense. His long passing game is superior to most and can read the runs of cutting wide men as instinctively as anyone. On his worst, well, he’s a snarling bull in a crystal shop whose anger is insatiable.
He’s an absolute enigma. In the blink of an eye Jonjo can perform the extraordinary that would have announcers jumping out of their seats. Blink again, and the pendulum takes a full swing towards being an utter disaster.
Shelvey would be a headline in East London, and sadly, not much more.
A £12 million move to St James’ Park was thought to be a fresh start for the former(?) English international, yet in his first match back in the Premier League, nothing really changed at all. An inability to keep a cool head and poor decision making cost himself, and his team, a good start to the season. Newcastle United find themselves sitting 13th in the standings, just two points above relegation.
Jonjo has been quoted as loving his time living up in Geordie country, yet that feeling may not be reciprocated by Rafa Benitez, given the sudden willingness to sell a player for the exact same price they just paid two years prior.
So while Jonjo Shelvey fights like a man on fire, he also employs a similar temper. Recall that the FA banned him for four matches after an altercation with Liverpool’s Emre Can in 2014.
Of course, my favorite Jonjo temper-tantrum occurred when Wolves visited Newcastle in 2016. Rumor has it Shelvey was being teased for his alopecia condition by certain Wolves players, and in return, Jonjo was alleged to have hurled racial slurs at Moroccan Romain Saiss. For his behavior, Shelvey was hit with a five match ban, a £100,000 fine, and was ordered to attend a mandatory education course.
Jonjo’s annual headline splash is sure to detract from West Ham’s footballing goals. Combine that with the often reckless nature of our board’s social media acumen, I can almost see the article writing itself a few months from now.
Yet despite all of the above, at only 25, perhaps there is still a chance Jonjo hasn’t hit his peak and the momentary flashes of brilliance will become the norm. Even if this untapped potential finally comes to fruition, he’s still not the player West Ham United need right now. Sure, the Hammers might expect to lose Andre Ayew (probably not) or Diafra Sakho (pretty please), however the real necessity comes in the form of a holding midfielder.
£12 million and £80,000 a week is too much of a gamble.
One can only hope the transfer policies under David Moyes are refreshingly different than that of the ‘handcuffed by the board’ approach of his predecessor.