I started writing football based articles back in lockdown part 1 (Remember that?) mainly as a way to keep my mind active as I was placed on furlough leave, along with most of the country. True faith gave me a platform to get my writing out there, and the very first piece I scribbled down for them was called “Don’t have a go at Jo” a scathing critique of our then pretty useless number 9, and to be fair at the time it may have been a tad harsh, but many supporters agreed with the sentiment.

I have been one of Joelinton’s biggest critics since his arrival at the club back in 2019, and I even coined a tongue in cheek phrase for all those supporters who kept the faith with him “Joeciples”. Well, what a difference a couple of years makes eh? and in particular a new manager, who actually understands how to get the best out of players. So it felt only right I penned a piece on how he has changed my opinion, among many others over the last few months.

Jo has been transformed from a missing sitters every week striker, to a midfield powerhouse so dominant in games, he’d take prime Viera & Toure out with one of those heroic tackles of his. Of course I’m getting carried away a bit, but we’ve all fallen in love with this player over the past few weeks haven’t we? Even those who ridiculed & denounced him, like myself, I’m not afraid to admit that, have become hardened Joeciples such has been the phenomenal performances from our number 7.

The rest of the footballing world stood up and took notice following his man of the match performance against Manchester United on Monday. He was absolutely unreal! It was quite possibly the best centre midfield performance I’ve seen from a player in Black & White in a long time. I’d maybe need to go back to Moussa Sissoko’s debut, when he played Chelsea  off the park to recall one, and even then Jo edges it.

Joelinton’s resurgence teaches us all a valuable lesson, not just as football fans, but in life too. Don’t give up on people so quickly, don’t write them off too soon, because with a little love, a little support, they could show you what they’re truly made of. Of course Eddie Howe deserves massive plaudits for what he’s done coaching Joelinton, but equal praise needs to go to the player himself, his work ethic, his mental strength, and his determination to keep striving through all the criticism has been nothing short of astounding.

He clearly has the backup and support of his teammates too, which was admirably displayed when Sean Longstaff stood up for him, after quite frankly an arrogant and disrespectful opening gambit by the Sky Sports presenter during the post match interview where, to everyone’s amazement, he blurted out  “Joelinton… I’ll be honest, I didn’t know you were that good!” Quite appalling really, perhaps he should watch Emil on fan cams & he may learn some better interviewing etiquette. Huge credit goes to Sean for going on to support his teammate in the way he did, demonstrating some real class, far more than the man holding the microphone did. (link below).

Jo has been so vital to what Howe is trying to do these last few games that he’s almost made himself the first name on the team sheet, a far cry from the player that used to make the St James’s park crowd groan on mass every time he touched the ball, but as Alex said on the last podcast, he needs to take these performances in to games against those around us and add goals to his game, which would make him almost the complete box to box midfielder, and fully complete the transition from zero to hero in the eyes of the entire Toon Army.

In fact, big Jo could end up saving us a few quid in the transfer market if he continues in this rich vein of form, and answer the question of what we’ve been missing in our midfield for some time now. There will be new recruits coming in without question, but on recent evidence, Jo has shown he deserves his chance to be part of this side moving forward.

We’re not sure when we’ll play our next match, after the postponement of Everton away, and with Southampton in doubt, but when we do, we’ll be hoping for more outstanding performances put in by our Brazilian midfield general, and with it, the army of Joeciples will grow, of which I now count myself as a fully converted member of. Well played big Jo! and you deserve all the credit that’s come your way.

 Chris Currie – @wig82