Be­comes big­gest li­a­bil­ity

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football -

ing the more likely to score. Brighton sud­denly dropped deeper, they were wor­ried about press­ing, be­cause fi­nally Bruce’s side were able to pass through it, either for­ward or out wide.

Shelvey had not been a pas­sen­ger, he was a li­a­bil­ity and of all the prob­lems fac­ing Bruce, the loss of not just form, but also mo­bil­ity, this is one of the most wor­ry­ing. Shelvey said a few weeks ago that he was loving life un­der Bruce, so he can­not blame his man­ager for his tra­vails.

This was as bad as he has played for New­cas­tle in his 3½ years on Ty­ne­side and a nig­gling thigh in­jury only of­fers so much mit­i­ga­tion.

These should be the peak years of his ca­reer, but they are pass­ing him by and there is only so much any man­ager can take. Shelvey has been a huge dis­ap­point­ment and if there is not a rapid im­prove­ment, he will not be around much longer. Bruce is a tol­er­ant man­ager, but the Shelvey co­nun­drum is not eas­ily solved.

“He’s as frus­trated and disappoint­ed as I was, es­pe­cially in the first half,” Bruce said, be­fore adding that the thigh in­jury was not a valid ex­cuse for what he had wit­nessed.

In truth, all the ex­cuses are wear­ing a lit­tle thin on Ty­ne­side. This was as bad as things have been for a long time and Shelvey may well find Bruce has a ruth­less side, be­cause he sim­ply can­not rely on a player who can no longer rely on him­self to do the things he once could.

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