It's hard to pinpoint when exactly Jonjo Shelvey's first-team prospects at Liverpool started to slide--he'd been very good through last summer and into the early days of the 2012-2013 season, becoming Brendan Rodgers' first man off the bench and midfield dynamo for years to come. That didn't last, obviously, but it never seemed like one moment slapped us in the face with the realization that his time on Merseyside was nearing an end. No blow-ups, no absolute catastrophes on the pitch, no moments of absolute madness that meant he had to go.
Last season ended with him getting a few starts, mostly in mop-up duty when Steven Gerrard's surgery ruled him out, and by the end of May it was mostly agreed that the best thing for Shelvey would be a temporary move for a half- or full-season to iron out the aspects of his game that most needed polishing. More maturity and self-control while harnessing his clear natural talent on the ball, and Liverpool would have that dynamo that Rodgers so directly and effusively praised during that training session at Tynecastle Stadium.
And then he was sold to Swansea City on July 3rd, sealing an exceedingly efficient and somewhat unexpected exit. Not for a half-season or all of 2013-2014. For good. It happened so quickly that there was little time for sentiment or nostalgia; that's a tall order for any young player to create too much of, but in Shelvey's case it was just all so yeah a loan would probably be a good id...oh, there he is holding a Swansea shirt after signing a permanent deal and looking like someone just made another Voldemort joke that we didn't really have much time to think about what had actually happened.
That makes his interview with The Daily Mail an interesting read, especially considering that back in early August he spoke of not feeling as though he got a fair chance at Liverpool:
"Brendan (Rodgers) called me and apologised that he couldn't give me enough game time, but he didn't need to apologise. He's the Liverpool manager. But personally...it's a big thing, trying to knock Steven Gerrard out of the team. If you had a really good game the next week you might still be out because the likes of Gerrard are coming back. Imagine that. And you can't argue with it - it's crazy how good he is.
"Brendan told me I could stay there and see what happened. It really was my choice. I wasn't pushed. But I wanted to play football. I would hate to be one of those sitting on my money. It is in my character, the way I was brought up. Even Brendan said, 'You're not one of these squad players happy to stand around.'"
It's a more in-depth version of the comments he made in August, and certainly more toned-down in terms of any sort of negative sentiment that he might hold toward the club or Brendan Rodgers. With his new team set to meet his former employers that's not especially surprising, but I'd also like to think--and there's not really any reason to doubt him here--that he's entirely sincere about the manner in which he departed and his feelings about how it played out.
Having started nearly every match in both domestic and cup competition thus far under Michael Laudrup, it's hard to argue that Jonjo Shelvey made the wrong choice. He'll likely feature on Monday night as well, and while he seems content with the decision to leave, I'm guessing some part of him will be hoping that his performance leaves Rodgers and Liverpool wishing he hadn't.
**HT to Lucasinho in the comments for sharing this link and his generally insatiable thirst for knowledge and truth**