Newcastle’s new number 9 was criticised once again by several fans on social media following Saturday’s defeat at Stamford Bridge.
His form is a concern, but for all those slating Joelinton, please consider this..
His style of play was regularly compared to Roberto Firmino during his time in with Hoffenheim in Germany. Think about that for a second. He’s been likened to Liverpool’s false no.9, yet we use him like he’s an Andy Carroll-esque battering ram.
Does he have to be stronger? Yes. Does he need to stop throwing his arms up in the air and moaning at the referee? Yes. Does he need to do the basics better? Yes. But in all of this, the key issue is his not his ability as a footballer – it’s the way Bruce is using him.
He’s constantly expected to back in, win headers and hold up the ball with no NUFC player within 20 yards of him 90% of the time. He’s under pressure to be a ‘Rondon’ with his back to goal – yet in Germany he was at his best running with the ball facing the other way.
Has he looked like a £40m player? No, but Bruce seems to just see this big 6ft 2′ unit and think “lump it long to him, lads”. He may have bullied the Spurs defence in that 1-0 win earlier in the season, showing his physical capabilities, but we’re making things so difficult for a 23-year-old attacker who’s still adjusting to life as a lone striker in a completely new league.
If we want him to be an out and out striker, we need a number 10 who can not only get closer to him in central areas, but allow him to get into the box as a result. After all, we’re not even creating any chances for him – we’re just lumping it long and expecting him to do something.
The answer isn’t to drop him, it’s for Bruce to earn his stripes as a manager and find a way of playing to his strengths.
I read a stat recently revealing that no Premier player has competed in more aerial duels this season. That says all you need to know and MUST change if we’re to get the best out of him.
He may not be looking like a £40m player – I can accept that – bit it’s a thankless task for him at the minute, making some of the heavy criticism I’m seeing both unfair and short-sighted.