The Derby County boss brought Shelvey to St James' Park in January last year, not that it helped Newcastle United retain their Premier League status.
Technically speaking, Steve McClaren was not the manager who took Newcastle United down last season. In fact, he was handed his freshly printed P45 two months before Sunderland’s 3-0 thrashing of Everton consigned the Magpies to a second stint in the Championship in six seasons.
Yet the former England manager handed Rafa Benitez something of an impossible job; his transfer market activity forcing the Spaniard to fix a broken engine with plastic tools. Although that has not stopped McClaren attempting to take credit for one major factor in Newcastle’s run to the automatic promotion positions, as reported by the Shields Gazette.
While Sunderland’s ‘three Ks’, Wahbi Khazri, Jan Kirchhoff and Lamine Kone combined to save another of the Black Cat’s many lives, Henri Saivet, Seydou Doumbia and Jonjo Shelvey ranged from the anonymous to the inadequate as Newcastle drifted into the second tier. Without Andros Townsend, their relegation may have been confirmed even quicker.
Now, only one of McClaren’s four ‘season-saving’ signings remains at St James although, as it stands, Shelvey is the runaway candidate for Player of the Year, the man Newcastle simply cannot do without. That their dreadful form post-Christmas coincided with his suspension was no coincidence.
However, it seems rather generous for McClaren to take credit for Shelvey’s current excellence.
"He's feisty, he's competitive and he wants to win. He's been the talisman from what I've seen they missed him for five games,” the 55-year-old told the Shields Gazette after his Derby County side were beaten 1-0 at St James’ on Saturday. "He was a good signing whoever brought him in!"
McClaren may have been at the helm when Shelvey swapped Swansea for Tyneside but it was only after the arrival of Benitez that the six-time England international started proving his worth.
One goal and two assists were all he had to show for half a season in black and white although, on balance, he remains the only positive of the McClaren legacy.