Former Chronicle writer Chris Waugh has written an excellent piece in The Athletic, discussing Joelinton and the worrying effectiveness of our attack this season.
It’s fair to say our record signing has struggled this season, but it’s also clear that the Brazilian has ability.
Waugh hints that the Brazilian could be set for a positional change if he’s not dropped, and be reverted to his old position at Hoffenheim down the left-side of attack:
Read quotes from his latest piece for The Athletic here:
“Already, Bruce has spoken about the need to “protect” Joelinton, who the head coach recognises is still a rookie No 9, and there is a suspicion that the Brazilian may be moved out to the left or taken out of the team for a period soon.”
This could mean the central striker would be either Andy Carroll or Dwight Gayle (although the former is now injured), and if that did happen, then either Almiron or Saint Maximin being dropped.
Dropping the Frenchman is very unlikely, and to accommodate them all would mean a change in formation and surely 4 at the back – something that seems more possible after news of Fabian Schar’s injury.
Bruce didn’t choose to sign to sign Joelinton, he was given him. Indeed the thought of signing the Brazilian was conjured up months before Steve Bruce arrived, but was not met with as much enthusiasm by Rafa Benitez as it was by others in positions of power. It must be pointed out that it was an apparent question of finance, not ability.
Add to this that Joelinton has never played as a lone striker before, and plied his trade playing wide in a front 3 for Hoffenheim, and the fact his career best in league a season was 8 in Austria, then just whose idea was it to sign him, and think he could be the main goalscorer this year?
While we’re on the subject of out of position, Almiron signed for us as a number 10, played well wide left and is now struggling wide right.
Waugh went on to add something that shows this whole thing for how daft it all is.
“Joelinton mainly played out wide for Hoffenheim but is being utilised as a centre-forward, while Saint-Maximin prefers to feature on the left, the position Almiron performed so well in last season, but now the Paraguayan is out on the right. They all prefer to play on the left and are still adapting to English football.”
About £80m worth of talent, making up our front 3, all wanting to occupy one position. And to make matters worse, playing for a manager using a formation and style he’s coming to terms with, with players he didn’t choose, and an appalling Premier League record and no past achievements to give you confidence he’ll find the right combination.
It’s enough to make you worry about relegation..