Former Scotland defender Alan Hutton has claimed Steve Bruce’s tactics are the reason behind Newcastle United’s Jonjo Shelvey struggling this season.
Shelvey began the campaign as one of Bruce’s preferred central midfield options, but lost his place in the side when we travelled to and beat Tottenham Hotspur in August.
The 6ft midfielder returned to the fold against Liverpool and Brighton & Hove Albion in September before being cast aside again, but has started our last three Premier League fixtures having come off the bench in the closing stages of our 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Romford-born Shelvey now faces a challenge to retain his place in the starting line-up with Sean Longstaff back from his suspension, yet Hutton is adamant that the former Liverpool man has been let down by the system rather than his talents.
“He’s [Shelvey] come in and done well,” Hutton told Football Insider. “He’s been out in the cold for a long period of time, and I think there’s a stigma with him that he doesn’t try and stuff like that.
“I like him as a player, I think he can be very creative as a player, his range of passing is unbelievable. Sometimes, I just think the formation they play, it’s difficult [for Shelvey to show that]. There can be [a] gap too big between [the] strikers and midfielders.
“You’re asking a lot of your players, you’re looking for something special to create a goal. He was very quiet [on Monday] for someone of his ability, he didn’t really get going against Villa.”
Who is at fault for Shelvey's performances?
Shelvey battled with injuries for much of last season and was often playing below 100% fitness when he did feature under Rafa Benitez, and was forced to sit out our games with Leicester and Manchester United earlier in the season after suffering a hamstring strain.
When he has featured under Bruce, the 27-year-old has averaged 40.1 passes per ninety minutes, which ranks the Charlton Athletic product third in our passes per 90 chart behind Ki Sung-Yueng – who has featured for just 136 minutes – and Longstaff – who has played an average of 42 passes, per WhoScored figures.
Only goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has played a higher number of accurate long passes per 90, too, with the Slovakian shot-stopper averaging 8.2 to Shelvey’s 4.9, while centre-half Fabian Schar is third with 3.7.
Shelvey rarely uses his time in possession to create chances for his teammates to score, though, as Sofa Score have recorded the £70,000-per-week midfielder as making just three big chances in the Premier League so far, plus an average of 1.5 key passes per game and completes just 59% of his passes in the opposition’s half.