How do you solve a problem like Joelinton? Or is there a problem to solve? The Brazilian forward has split the fan base since his move from Germany, some had written him off, some were still willing to give him a chance! But it seems only one man can change the view of the fanbase, and that is the player himself!

 

Since his £40 million move from Hoffenheim it hasn’t been the best of times for the former number 9. For such a young talent, to have a price tag that big, and the pressure of such a famous shirt must have weighed heavy on the shoulder.

It had started so well for the young Brazilian, getting a goal in his third appearance away to Spurs, in what would also be manager Steve Bruce’s first win as Newcastle manager. With a couple of half-decent displays in the pre-season, there was a real belief from some that we could have a player on our hands.

 

It didn’t quite go that way for ‘Big Jow’, in the time he had been at the club, before Eddie Howe had taken over, Joelinton had scored a massive 10 goals in a black and white shirt! Not exactly the return you would want from your number 9, and club record signing.

 

If reports are to be believed Joelinton was scouted in excess of 40 times by the Newcastle recruitment team. So would imagine there was a decent dossier on the player when his name was put towards the Newcastle hierarchy. However the clubs reaction to the type of player he was came across as vastly different to the player that played in the Bundesliga, and was described as a ‘beast’ by Julian Nanglesmann.

 

The ethos of the club at the time was to buy young, and sell for a profit. You would imagine Mike Ashley seeing only pound signs when he heard of a young Brazilian player, likened to Robert Firmino, To the point when he was suggested to then manager Rafa Benitez, Ashley even offered to stump up half the transfer fee himself….apparently!

 

Still learning his trade in Germany, when he was brought over to England, he was then met with the talents of Steve Bruce as manager! He had gone from working with one of the best young managers, and now Bayern Munich manager, to not.

 

You get the sense that Joelinton was sold to Bruce as a replacement for Rondon, when in reality in those first two seasons he was barely a replacement for Ayoze Perez. Here we had a player who had played more as a connecting forward, being played as a sole striker in a team that got a nose bleed if they went across the half way line.

 

After two years Bruce still didn’t seem to know how to get the best out of his record signing, but that will always be hard when you only work with a player a couple days a week, despite what your sports scientists may say.

The lack of coaching did not deter the young forward, and would take matters into his own hands. He would have regular meetings with an analyst and look at how to improve his game, as well as sourcing a fitness coach to help him improve. The lad was trying to improve, and sometimes it showed.

 

Once the club signed Callum Wilson, Joelinton would at times play alongside the new striker, and looked decent. The odd goal would come, as well as an uptake in the amount of assists. But while he would look decent for a few games, he would either be dropped or played in a different position, encapsulating the fact Bruce didn’t know what to do with him.

 

Up step Eddie Howe! Since the new manager has come in he has been impressed with the former number 9, impressed by his strength and technical ability. Which always posed the question, is he watching someone else?

 

But here was a manager who worked with his players, gave them instruction, and generally wants them to improve. After spending just shy of two weeks with the players, Howe had an idea on how to use Joelinton. That showed in the managers ‘first game’ against Brentford.

 

It was a marked improvement on what we have seen in the previous two years from the player. In fact just looking at his heat map, the only area he didn’t cover on Saturday was left back. He worked for the team, knew his role, and seemed to bask in it.

 

Here we saw a player that wouldn’t shy away, as we had seen previously, didn’t let his head drop, and was in contention for a man of the match award, such was the improvement seen from the player, not to mention his well taken goal to bring the game level at 2-2.

 

Saturdays game is definitely a foundation for the player to build on. But if he keeps putting performances in like that, and continues to improve, we will have a player on our hands. It just goes to show that a player like Joelinton needs to be coached, and not just told to go out and play. He needs a manager that knows his strengths and weaknesses, and in Eddie Howe he seems to have that.

 

So is Joelinton a good player or not? Evidence has shown us not, but lets judge the lad after he has spent more time with the new manager. My guess is the answer could change!

Carl Richardson

@carl_tf