Jonjo Shelvey steals headlines after securing rare win for Newcastle at Elland Road - Telegraph 22/1/22
Newcastle remain in relegation zone, but win over Leeds United gives Eddie Howe’s side boost in their fight for Premier League survival
As a survivor of their last encounter with the Championship, Jonjo Shelvey knows more than most about what it means for Newcastle to be relegated.
He also knows how important this victory was, which was clear as he sprinted the length of the Elland Road pitch after scoring his winning goal, sliding in front of fans and pulling off his “spectacles” celebration.
The Toon Army had not travelled back to the North East with a win for eight months, and they were in no mood to hurry back from Yorkshire.
They were still singing loudly and dancing half an hour after the final whistle. It felt like a big moment in the battle for survival as Newcastle’s relegation rivals make their moves.
Norwich City are in form, while Burnley will play their games in hand. Watford will probably sack their manager to give themselves a chance.
Newcastle need to spend the money of Saudi Arabian owners and now have a winter break to concentrate on recruitment, with this victory giving renewed hope of attracting players and staying up.
Joelinton, Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett suffered injuries, which makes recruitment even more significant. They have made progress on a deal for Bayer Leverkusen left-back Mitchel Bakker and are set to discuss personal terms. “This win might help us in the market,” Eddie Howe, the Newcastle manager, said.
“We will be active until the last day and we are looking to improve the squad, and it’s more important after these three injuries. We’re working.
“You saw the power of recruitment. Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood made huge contributions and, if you get it right, you can elevate the club to greater heights. We learnt there is a resilience in the players, they are fighting, and they have a belief we are not dead and buried. Hopefully that can transform our season.”
Howe will be encouraged by his team getting maximum points from a match that could have gone either way.
They have too often ended in draws and defeats. They withstood plenty of pressure, particularly in the first half, when Leeds started well.
Marcelo Bielsa nominally plays a 4-1-4-1, but it was common to see four forwards across the pitch.
Newcastle’s focus was on defending for the first half an hour, and Howe will take heart from shutting out the hosts during this period. He was indebted to his goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who bravely denied Dan James after a sweeping move created by Rodrigo surging forward and curving a ball towards the back post. Leeds’s pressure, though, did not translate into chances.
And while the game was level, Newcastle could threaten through counter-attacks or set plays. After one corner was cleared, Shelvey volleyed towards the top corner and Illan Meslier saved athletically. Their fluency was not aided by the injury to Joelinton, but Shelvey helped drive them on and was rewarded with his goal.
Javier Manquillo, on as a substitute, made the winner with a surging run which was stopped by Diego Llorente. Shelvey’s tactic appeared to be putting his free-kick into an area to cause maximum confusion. It had the desired effect, with Fabian Schar distracting Meslier as the ball drifted in. “I knew I had to go across goal. I think the keeper gave it a bit of help, but a goal is a goal and I’ll take it,” Shelvey said.
“This is a difficult place to come and play football because Leeds are constantly on the move, but everyone battled for the shirt.
“We know we can create chances and score goals, so it was just about seeing games out. We have never had any doubts, everyone is in this together.
“We will keep going, and we believe we have enough to stay up.”
Bielsa had accused Newcastle of time-wasting from early in the game.
“This was evident,” he said. “Those in charge have the tools to prevent it.” He may also take a dim view of Mateusz Klich angrily kicking his tracksuit top in the technical area when he was substituted. Newcastle fans, in contrast, were jubilant after their rare away win, just their second victory at all this season.
“The supporters were in the match and you can hear them,” Howe said. “It can be a hostile ground, but it makes you think how much they have – makes you think what could be if we bring consistent success here.
“You enjoy the win for a few seconds and then relief will be one of the emotions because you know how much the staff and players put in to bring success to the club.” Howe confirmed Joelinton had a groin issue, Lascelles felt his hamstring and Dummett suffered fatigue, so victory came at a cost, although it seemed worthwhile to those dancing in the stands.