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Jonjo Shelvey Enjoys a "Good Old-Fashioned Tackle"

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Jonjo Shelvey's coming-out tour continues, this time with a wide-ranging interview that reveals plenty about his progression to Liverpool's first-team and his views on the modern game.

Michael Regan

There's not much left to say about how quickly Jonjo Shelvey's become a something in the world of English football--he was always sort there, just off the fringes of being relevant, only needing a chance and a run of form to find himself either right alongside or pulling past the it-boys of the past few seasons, with a first-team place within reach for club and a freshly-earned cap at the senior level for country.

It's interesting to see him become such a thing lately, as he's had an endearing quality for Liverpool fans but never seemed to have the mainstream appeal that'd see him become one of the country's more prominent younger players. That might be overstating his development of late, but I'm not prone to actually checking in with people outside of Liverpool supporters about their opinions, and there's really no reason to believe that he can't become an important component of England's national setup so long as the strengths of his game are completely extinguished by abysmal coaching and decades of failure.

Anyhow, his interview in the Independent has a bit of an expansive feel to it, with discussion of his sending-off against United taking a prominent role, but also mention of his disappointment at how things went under Kenny Dalglish and the role that tackling plays in his game. Given the aforementioned sending-off and his general propensity to take a bit of shin-bone with the ball, the quotes on physicality are particularly enlightening:

"Football is becoming less and less of a contact sport. Some players are making what you would consider good, old-fashioned tackles but are being punished for them. You can't get away with anything. It's a joke, to be honest. How can you pull out of a tackle if the ball is there to be won? That's what fans want to see but times have changed and we have to adapt. You don't go on the training pitch and learn how to tackle. You learn how to shoot, how to pass but not how to tackle."

The easy joke emerging from those ending quotes is that it's not particularly surprising that Jonjo Shelvey doesn't care much about learning how to tackle, but ahead of tomorrow's derby, it's not too reassuring. His drive and urgency are among the strengths noted above, and, as nice as they are to see in a Liverpool side that can be lacking at times, they're also major areas of concern.

I suppose the takeaway isn't that Jonjo Shelvey's the odds-on favorite to get sent off--I still support the recently fit Marouane Fellaini for the honor--but rather that the combination of being young, promising, and British has allowed Liverpool's midfielder a certain amount of attention, and we're left to hope that it proves to be both deserved and long-lasting.