Newcastle United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey will have left Steve Bruce fuming with his shocking performance at home to Fulham on Saturday.
Bruce recalled Shelvey to the starting line-up for the St. James’ Park affair after handing the former Liverpool and Swansea City gem a rare day off for the 5-2 humbling at Leeds United on Wednesday night.
Shelvey had captained the Magpies to victories over Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion before sitting out the Elland Road trip, and he may now find that he has to fight for his place in the side to face Brentford in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final clash.
Shelvey lacked the leadership skills against Fulham that has seen the 27-year-old awarded the captain’s armband in recent weeks, as he ghosted around the field to get on the ball without ever threatening Scott Parker’s relegation-threatened side.
Fulham fortuitously opened the scoring through a Matt Ritchie own goal, but thoroughly deserved their advantage at the break having dominated the early proceedings after Bruce surprisingly opted to park the bus at home to a side that had allowed 22 goals this season.
Ritchie tried to atone for his collapse yards off Karl Darlow’s line yet could not, though he still ended the 90-minutes with more credit in his pocket than Shelvey as Newcastle failed to beat a 10-men Cottagers side that weathered the sending off of Joachim Andersen.
Shelvey badly let Bruce down in the engine room beside Sean Longstaff, with the £13m-rated man winning just a single duel from three contests, while turning over possession 16 times, committing one foul and failing to hit the target with either of his two shots, per SofaScore.
The midfielder, who Bruce lauds for being “blessed with a natural ability”, would take a game-high 90 touches, as well, yet would only return one key ball from a game-high 81 total passes – 12 more than any other player for either side.
He additionally did not attempt, let alone complete, a dribble against Fulham, while registering just a single successful tackle and two clearances as he paraded the half-way line.
Shelvey has been an important player for Bruce this season with the Toon’s third-most shots (13) and second-most key balls (11) after the Magpies’ opening 13 Premier League games, per WhoScored, but that version of himself was not on show on Saturday and was sorely missed.