Jonjo Shelvey hails 'perfect' week on Tyneside after Newcastle edge out West Ham
Published 17/01/2016 | 13:31
Jonjo Shelvey ended a "perfect" week on Tyneside with a priceless victory which breathed new life into Newcastle's Barclays Premier League survival bid.
Saturday's 2-1 home win over West Ham, which came four days after a hard-fought 3-3 draw with Manchester United at St James' Park, lifted the Magpies out of the bottom three, for the time being at least, and created a new sense of optimism on Tyneside.
That was in part due to the impact made by £12million debutant Shelvey, who injected fresh impetus into a team which had previously struggled going forward.
The 23-year-old England international played a part in both his side's goals, and although he was later involved in an unseemly spat with Hammers striker Enner Valencia, it was a day to remember.
Shelvey told nufcTV: "It's an easy place to come and play football, to be honest with you. The fans are behind you, there are some tremendous players in that dressing room.
"It normally takes a little bit of time for players to settle, but I felt right at home.
"The players were reading my passes very well and people were getting into position, so it was just easy. I thought it would be a lot harder than it has been this week, but it has been perfect.
"It was a massive win. It's been a great week for the club - it was a great point against Manchester United and we have followed it up with a massive win against West Ham.
"It was a perfect performance, I think, in the first half. We started really well, pressed the ball and they rarely played out from the back. We showed real intent and got our two early goals."
It was Shelvey who paved the way for Ayoze Perez's sixth-minute opener when his pass was expertly laid off by Georginio Wijnaldum for the former Tenerife frontman to curl an inch-perfect shot past keeper Adrian's outstretched arm.
But the raking cross-field ball from which full-back Daryl Janmaat set up Wijnaldum for his ninth goal of the season nine minutes later was even better and left head coach Steve McClaren purring.
Shelvey said modestly: "It's quite an easy pass to make. Daryl makes those forward runs all the time - he's a very advanced full-back - and if he keeps making those runs, I'll always try to find him."
Shelvey and Valencia came together off the ball seven minutes before the break with the striker going to ground, but McClaren later dismissed the clash as a bout of "handbags" and is expecting to hear no more about it.
What might have been a much more comfortable afternoon took a twist when Chancel Mbemba left a back-pass woefully short to allow substitute Nikica Jelavic to reduce the deficit.
Then, after Aleksandar Mitrovic passed up a series of opportunities to extend the lead, Rob Elliot had to produce a fine late save to deny Cheikhou Kouyate an equaliser.
It proved to be a disappointing trip north for Hammers boss Slaven Bilic, who was mystified by his team's first-half no-show.
Even star man Dmitri Payet was unable to inspire the visitors on a rare off-day, but Bilic insisted they cannot rely on one man.
He said: "Today, we didn't create a lot, but we have scored many goals in the Premier League so far, we have created many chances in the Premier League.
"Okay, like every club, we have one player who stands out in terms of you are expecting something special and it is Dmitri for us.
"But it wasn't the case that he was creating everything for us so far this season."