Newcastle United will not play a game until February 16th and this gives Steve Bruce plenty of time to make some important decisions ahead of some crucial upcoming games.
Newcastle United are in a good place at the moment with 31 points in the bag and four months remaining in the season, but the team and Steve Bruce still have plenty of work to do. The Magpies have been an interesting team to follow this season because of their inconsistency. They seem to find motivation against superior opponents, but tend to play down to the level of inferior clubs.
18 of Newcastle United’s 31 points this season have come against Tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Sheffield United, Wolverhampton and Everton, which is an impressive and unexpected list of teams. However, the Toon have also dropped precious points to teams like Norwich City, Watford, Aston Villa, Burnley and Brighton.
Overall, Bruce has exceeded expectations as Rafa Benitez’s successor on Tyneside, but he does have some important things to sort out before the team returns to action on February 16th. How can the team get the best out of Joelinton? How can Bruce alter the team’s style of play to make them more dangerous offensively? These questions and more are all addressed below.
1. How to get the best out of Joelinton?
Newcastle United have been extremely patient with Joelinton, and the Brazilian has also been named a starter more times than most fans would like due to injuries on the front-line. The club’s record signing has played in every game this season, has been named a starter 24 times, but his lack of production has led to him being replaced 15 times in the second half.
With one goal and two assists to his name through 25 league games, Joelinton is being labeled as the worst summer signing in the top flight by several pundits. We have seen him score goals in preseason friendlies and in the FA Cup, so what can Bruce and his staff do to tap into the striker’s potential?
Well, for starters, Newcastle United need to alter their style of play (which is discussed in slide three) to provide more support for him higher up the pitch. The majority of Joelinton’s touches on the ball are deep in midfield, so of course he will struggle to score goals in those scenarios. Secondly, the staff need to focus on working with Joelinton on his positioning in the final third of the pitch. Often times, the Brazilian is not in the right place when crosses are delivered from out wide, so it is important for Bruce to remind Joelinton of his boundaries near goal. That advice seems basic and silly, but it does not look like any type proper training has been delivered in that area.