IN an attempt to solve a long-standing thigh problem that has plagued him for the best part of two years, Jonjo Shelvey has turned to shockwave treatment.

Twice a day, once in the morning and then again straight after training, he subjects his leg to a barrage of low-energy sound waves that increase blood flow to the affected area. “It’s like a gun that goes onto your leg,” explained Shelvey. “It’s painful when it’s being done. You have to just grin and bear it I suppose.” A gun to the leg? Little wonder he has improved his shooting.

Shelvey is a player, indeed a man, of intense contradictions. Portrayed as injured and indifferent, yet willing to subject his body to extreme bouts of pain in an attempt to stay fit. Seen as lazy and lackadaisical, yet boasting running stats as good as anyone in the Newcastle team and fuelled by an intense passion that was evident in the frenzied reaction to the dramatic long-range strike that secured a point against Manchester City. Rude and arrogant on occasion, yet erudite and incisive on the rare occasions he decides to commit his thoughts to airtime or print.

He knows he faces a series of battles he has encountered throughout his career, against public perception as well as the concerns of his manager, but is resolute in his refusal to bow to what is sometimes demanded of him. Why cut back on the 60-yard passes that can prove so effective if they are executed to perfection? Why speak out and be more affable when the celebrity side of football holds no appeal? Why not chance your arm from 25 yards when you can strike a shot as clean as the one that whistled past Ederson’s right hand at the weekend?

“The season before (last), everyone in the whole country was saying, ‘You should be going to the World Cup’, and now you get labelled as a bad footballer,” said Shelvey, in an interview with Newcastle’s match programme you suspect was conducted under at least a degree of duress. “That don’t change overnight, do you know what I mean?

“My friends send me stuff from Twitter of people who’ve been hammering you, then you have a good game and they’re literally buzzing off you. People hide behind keyboards and things like that, and it is what it is – you’re going to get that. That’s never ever going to stop in football. You just need to ignore it.”

It is harder to ignore the criticisms of your boss though, and for all his obvious self-belief, Shelvey must have been stung by the reaction to his return to the side in August’s Carabao Cup exit to Leicester City. Having missed a penalty in the shoot-out, Shelvey somewhat unfairly carried the can for that defeat, with his languid style leading to accusations of laziness.

Bruce seemed to tacitly accept the validity of the criticism when he dropped the midfielder for six of Newcastle’s next eight league games, but since returning to the starting line-up at West Ham, where he scored with a long-range free-kick, Shelvey has successfully begun the process of restoring his reputation.

His levels might have dipped in last Monday’s defeat at Aston Villa, although he was not alone in that, but he was back to his best at the weekend, with his superb late strike capping a fine all-round display that saw him add a high degree of defensive discipline to his game. The sight of Shelvey chasing back to harry Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling does not really fit with the stereotype of his supposed mindset, but it was not a surprise to his team-mates, who are regularly baffled by the way in which the 27-year-old is portrayed.

“The thing with Jonjo is that it’s a bit of a Catch-22 really,” said Isaac Hayden. “When he wasn’t playing, people were saying he should be playing, and then when he plays, people say he shouldn’t be playing and he can’t do this or that.

“People will always talk about Jonjo being this or being that, but at the end of the day, the group of players here knows the qualities that he brings to the team. We know what he can do.

“It’s easy for a lot of people to talk on the sidelines, saying ‘He’s lazy’ or ‘He doesn’t do this or that enough’, but his performance show differently. If you look at the stats, that we get to see, then they show his running stats are good.

“It’s a persona thing with him maybe because he is very laidback and chilled, but he puts a lot of effort in and he gets himself about the pitch. He’s good for us as a team.”

He was certainly a key performer at the weekend, although he was far from the only player to catch the eye in black-and-white as Newcastle maintained their record of upsetting the elite.

Manchester City have now failed to win on three of their last four visits to Tyneside, and for all their continued inconsistency, Newcastle have now taken seven points from this season’s matches against Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham. That is an extremely impressive return.

Devised under Rafael Benitez and developed under Steve Bruce, Newcastle are comfortable with an approach that sees them packing their defence, working tigerishly in midfield, and looking to cause damage on the counter-attack. It might not appeal to the purists, but it is effective, and while Manchester City might have dominated possession at the weekend, their lack of a cutting edge was mainly due to the quality of Newcastle’s defending and the strength of the home side’s tactical organisation.

City claimed the lead when Raheem Sterling swept home following a neat back-pass from David Silva, but the Magpies were level within three minutes as Miguel Almiron finally claimed his first assist since moving to Tyneside, teeing up Jetro Willems for a precise right-footed finish.

The visitors looked to have won it when de Bruyne produced a contender for Goal of the Season with nine minutes left, controlling the ball on his chest before hammering home a sublime half-volley via the underside of the crossbar, but Shelvey earned Newcastle a fully-deserved point when he received a square free-kick from Christian Atsu and found the bottom corner.

“Man City came trying to claw back points on Liverpool as much as they could, but we knew what we were capable of doing, especially against the big teams,” said Hayden.

“We know our game plan, the way we sit in, the way we work together as a team, and the plan came off again.

“The most important thing is that when the big sides come here, they always struggle, so I think everyone looks at that.

“They see Man City have come here and drawn again, and psychologically, I think that makes other teams aware of what we can do. They know we can do things here at St James’ Park if we put our minds to it and work hard. That’s important.

“We want to be more consistent, but if you look at the Premier League, the consistent ones are the ones that are in the top four. The ones that are not so consistent are the ones at the bottom.

“Putting it into perspective, we had two very good performances and wins against West Ham and Bournemouth, and then we went to Villa Park and it didn’t quite turn out the way we wanted it to.

“But we’ve come here and shown we can have a bit of fight and desire, and shown what we can do against the reigning champions.”