It's a ridiculous name, isn't it? But so much fun to say: two phonetically opposed words doing battle as the literal namesake of an exciting and error-prone young footballer. The ill-paired words spill forth with ease during Liverpool games as bursts of approval (JONJO!) and cries of disbelief (F#$%ING JONJO!). They stand for a player who's as easy to get behind as he is to decry; an emblem of the new Liverpool: young, talented, motivated, and in need of work.
Exactly why Jonjo Shelvey is at once so likeable and difficult is best evidenced by his challenge on Johnny Evans during September's clash with Manchester United: a shambling moment of recklessness that sent cries of the young man's name pulsing through living rooms and pubs near and far. Shelvey was sent off (though Evans should probably have gone with him), a disappointing turn made brighter by his exit from the field; glaring and pointing in earnest at Alex Ferguson, who, as ever, had no business saying anything to a player leaving the pitch who isn't his own. Another careless moment from a foolish youngster, perhaps, but endearing nonetheless. Regardless of the silly challenge and subsequent red card, the moment clearly mattered to Jonjo Shelvey.
With Liverpool in the midst of a painful rebuild, restraint and tolerance are not always priorities for fans. As much as Jonjo Shelvey can be a hallmark for a need for patience, and a target as a result, the abuse he received via Twitter after his performance against Stoke City on Boxing Day was shameful. He wasn't at his best at the Britannia, but needless tweets like these led the youngster to close down his Twitter account (temporarily). That the tweets allegedly came from LFC fans, rather than those of rivals, as one might expect, reminds that LFC's support is still peopled by a peasantry of the sort that turned out for the Oldham FA Cup game last January.
All of this brings me back to the idea of "You'll Never Walk Alone," and the power of the song's sentiment as Liverpool Football Club's essential oath. Is it not an offer of community and support? A pledge of loyalty and attachment? Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but I'm sure that the type of people who choose to flay dedicated players like Jonjo Shelvey will fondly sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" the next time they're in the terraces. I worry about the extent to which these people, as human beings, think about what these words mean, and what they represent as an idea on collectivism that goes beyond one person's identity as a supporter on a Saturday afternoon. That is, if these people are even thinking at all.