It took four attempts, but Steve Bruce has finally found the best role for Joelinton at Newcastle United.
One thing Steve Bruce has been criticized most for over the course of his 16 months in charge of Newcastle United is his misuse of players. In recent weeks, fans have seen Miguel Almiron essentially play as a defensive midfielder, and Allan Saint-Maximin as a secondary striker.
For the dynamic duo, those roles limit their productivity as Almiron gets the ball too far from goal, and Saint-Maximin does not see the ball as much in open spaces. For Bruce, working with Almiron and Saint-Maximin is a work in progress, although the solution is quite obvious among fans, but Bruce did find an appropriate role for one player: Joelinton.
Newcastle United scored two late goals to secure three points against Crystal Palace in London yesterday, and Joelinton was a catalyst for both goals. In the 88th minute, the Brazilian did well to find some space before setting up Callum Wilson with a brilliant through-ball to take the lead.
Two minutes later, Joelinton showed great composure on the ball as he entered the penalty area, cut back, and scored his first goal of the season. The Brazilian has played as a lone striker and on both wings since last August, but last night he showed that he can excel in the number ten role.
Joelinton set a personal Premier League record against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park with seven shot attempts. The 24-year-old should have done better with two of his attempts from inside the penalty area, and his goal did take a fortunate deflection off the defender, but the important thing is that he is getting good looks at goal.
Joelinton’s ability to win aerial duels and hold the ball up has always been praised, and now he can consolidate those skills with his pace and more shots in the final third. The fact that he already bagged an assist his first time in this new role bodes well for Callum Wilson as he moves closer to double figures in the scoring column.
Fans should expect to see Joelinton in this role over the next few weeks, and if he can maintain the same urgency he displayed against Crystal Palace, then Newcastle United will reap the benefits. His aggression will be needed against Aston Villa next week, and hopefully his confidence continues to grow in front of goal when the opportunities present themselves.