Anyone who has played high level sport or has been privy to a competitive environment will in general possess that character trait which is no sleight on the individual as a person, but a valuable quality in a dog eat dog world.
Jonjo Shelvey is emerging as someone who matches this criteria, and his last two performances went some way to proving the notion. His match saving display against Young Boys, as he donned his freshly primed cape and flew in to bag a brace, to help us notch the 3 points in a calamitous game which would leave those of the defensive ilk scratching their heads in bemusement.
The former Charlton Athletic fledgling’s red card 3 days later was an exercise of youthful exuberance – nothing else – as his rangy right foot gained full contact of the ball while his counterpart Jonny Evans jumped in with both feet. A “meaty challenge” a few years back but an inexplicable red card in 2012 given by match official Mark Halsey.
While attempting to maintain a stranglehold on the midfield in which he was performing manfully he found himself the victim of a poor decision. His reaction was also interesting. I don’t mind young players showing passion which is sometimes misdirected; having a go at Alex Ferguson for encouraging the wrong coloured card and calling the septuagenarian “a grass” was naive; the smirk on the United manager’s face said it all after Shelvey disappeared down the tunnel, from which he is now yet to remerge for 3 games depleting our already thin squad.
Many thought a certain Steven Gerrard had a spiky side to him when he burst on the scene all those years ago. Pressure builds as hype creeps in to the dressing rooms and into young player’s psyches. The current captain lunged at Everton’s Kevin Campbell in a typically thunderous Merseyside derby as a novice back in 1999. Emotional immaturity and inexperience got the better of him that day but tribulations such as this only made him more wise to the game and lessons were learnt and the same can happen with the young Essex boy.
There is no room for wallflowers who shirk responsibility at the club and it is in the middle of the park where the game is generally won and lost. Shelvey has the physical qualities to create a presence around the centre-circle much like Gerrard. What he needs to do now is thrive on the confidence the club have showed in him and cement his place in there. At 20 years old he won’t play every game but will gradually find his feet and hopefully reach his potential which is all we can ask for. He has already seen off Charlie Adam and Jay Spearing and the club’s current lack of might in the transfer market may work in his advantage as it should allow his footballing education to expand in the best way possible: first team football.
So let’s not criticise our starlet too much after last week’s “indiscretion”, he has fire in his belly so let’s get behind him.
As always your feedback is welcome.