The Shelvey Conundrum
There have been plenty of positives for Swansea this season.
September 15th, 2014
It may have been after only three games, but they travelled to face Chelsea in a battle of 1st vs 2nd in the Premier League. Doubts about Garry Monk’s abilities as a manager have been largely silenced by taking nine points from those three games and looking like a far more cohesive side than they did in the final months of Michael Laudrup’s reign.
However, there is one player who continues to divide opinion. Jonjo Shelvey bagged his first goal of the season in defeat against Chelsea, a late consolation effort which nonetheless showed his ability as he made a good run through the defence and finished smartly past Thibaut Courtois. But such moments for Shelvey are far too rare, given the talent he possesses.
It’s what curtailed his career at Liverpool – for every moment where he looked like the future of England’s midfield and a long-term replacement for Steven Gerrard, there were those when he would fly into challenges on Jonny Evans and get himself sent off. And it is a trait that has continued since his move to the Liberty Stadium last summer. While he can score stunning goals from 40 yards, he can also give away two goals when his former employers come to town.
While his midfield partners, Ki Sung-yeung and Gylfi Sigurdsson, have the sort of class that’s necessary if Swansea are to move on from last season’s troubles and stay in the upper half of the table this campaign, Shelvey is as liable to cost his side three points as he is to win them.
If the product of Charlton’s youth academy can find a consistent level of performance, then the Swans would have a midfield trio which would be the envy of many in the league, and battling with the likes of Southampton for a top eight finish would be well within their grasp. Moreover, Shelvey himself might find that England ambition realised and add to that solitary cap won against San Marino in 2012.
At 22 years of age, he still has plenty of time to find that level and make the most of his undoubted talent. But as each year ticks by with frustration and brilliance mixed in equal measure, he runs the risk of becoming known as one of his generation’s wasted talents.