Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Jonjo Has the Audacity to Be the One Who Makes United Tick

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Jonjo Has the Audacity to Be the One Who Makes United Tick

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS WAUGH Sports writer

FOR large spells during the first 78 minutes at Hillsborough, it appeared as if Jonjo Shelvey was almost playing by himself at times.

While his team-mates struggled to match Sheffield Wednesday's ferocious intensity and brute physicality, Shelvey repeatedly carved out opportunities for himself and his team-mates.

In addition, he almost scored a goal-of-the-season contender out of absolutely nothing just before the break.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, so rarely seen in a black-and-white shirt in recent months, did offer Shelvey support during the final 12 minutes after being introduced as a substitute.

However, there was precious little else in terms of help provided by the rest of the United players on display, goalkeeper Karl Darlow aside.

Shelvey is the player who really makes United tick yet, surprisingly, before the midweek victory over Burton Albion the midfielder had not scored or assisted since the beginning of February.

His influence on this side goes beyond that, however.

He sets the tempo and he dictates play with his excellent vision and ingenuity.

Carlos Carvalhal spotted that. During Wednesday's 1-0 victory on Tyneside on Boxing Day, Shelvey served the first match of his fivegame suspension - and the Owls dominated.

With Shelvey on the pitch at Hillsborough, Carvalhal recognised the need to neutralise his influence.

During the first half, Wednesday allowed every Magpie to have the ball in their own half - every Magpie apart from Shelvey, that is.

Whenever he received possession, Owls players swarmed around him and harried him.

In order to combat this, Rafa Benitez shifted Shelvey further forward, moved Mo Diame into a lone deep-lying-midfield role and this freed United's maestro. Shelvey suddenly had room from which to work - and, with the last play of the half, he almost scored what would have been one of the most spectacular goals of the season. …

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