When Jonjo Shelvey joined Newcastle United in January 2016, many thought the club had finally replaced Yohan Cabaye.

It hasn’t quite gone to plan for the former Liverpool and Swansea midfielder. On his day, Shelvey can be unplayable, his range of passing is remarkable, his vision exemplary. For all Shelvey’s potential, the combination of injuries, lack of consistency and the occasional hot headed streak, saw him fall out of favour under former manager Rafael Benitez.

Shelvey was a key man during Newcastle’s championship campaign. His understanding with Dwight Gayle helped the club to a title winning campaign and a return to the top flight at the first time of asking. Shelvey has made 112 appearances for Newcastle, scoring 8 and assisting 19. Those stats back up the inconsistent label that has weighed Shelvey down.

Shelvey stated he ‘Never knew where he stood with Rafael Benitez’. The Spaniard has very specific demands for his players. Shelvey needs to be fathered, an arm over the shoulder when his performances are lacking. New manager Steve Bruce may just be the man to get the best from Shelvey. His man management style and faith in the midfielder can give Shelvey a much needed boost.

Shelvey thrives during games that are played with a slower tempo, he has more time to pick out passes, a reason for the inconsistency when playing in the Premier League. During his time in the Championship, the opposition stood off Shelvey, making it easier for him to dictate the game. The Premier League is quicker, more intelligent in a way. The opposing players will try to get inside Shelvey’s head. Dele Alli succeeded in August 2017, Shelvey saw red for a stamp on the Tottenham man. 

There’s a lot of pressure on Shelvey to perform to a high level consistently for Newcastle. He has different qualities than his central midfield partners in Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden. He’s the one you would look at and identify as a major threat straight away. If Shelvey is allowed too much time on the ball he will punish teams.

The problem that arises is, Shelvey will rarely have the luxury of having time on the ball. One of the reasons Benitez overlooked the former Liverpool midfielder last season. Shelvey must adapt his game to have more of an impact in the Premier League. 

There are only so many times supporters and managers can say “He has so much potential”. Shelvey is now 27, his potential should’ve been fulfilled but here we are still waiting. 

Bruce is eager to hand Shelvey a new contract at the club. He sees the midfielder as a key man in this Newcastle side. Shelvey started the season opener against Arsenal, however, he only lasted 54 minutes, before being substituted. 

This feels like a now or never season for Shelvey. He has a manager who wants to build a side around him in Steve Bruce. Shelvey now knows he will get more minutes on the pitch under the new manager. Should Shelvey fail to perform consistently, which has always been an issue for the midfielder, Bruce may think twice about handing Shelvey a new contract.

Should Shelvey find the key attribute of consistency, there is no question of him becoming a regular fixture in both the Newcastle and England setup. 

Graeme Bell