Steve Bruce inevitably had to field some questions about Joelinton in his pre-Wolves press conference on Friday morning.
The Brazilian striker has just one goal to his name so far this season and has been the subject of some scathing criticism from some fans, while others are defending him and blaming the system and lack of service.
When asked about wether the £40m striker should keep his place or be taken out of the firing line, Bruce leapt to the defence – insisting he’ll come good and won’t be dropped anytime soon:
“Every goalscorer needs a bit of service, and that’s the difficult part of the game…we have to try to get that.
“We got ourselves into good positions at Chelsea and nothing came of it. We’ve got to make better decisions and be more clinical. The decisions we made last week weren’t good enough.
“I don’t think he [Joelinton] needs a rest just yet, he just needs time. The boy Pepe scored two for Arsenal this week and you’ll see a different player for that. It takes time to adjust to the Premier League, it doesn’t matter who you are or how big the price tag is, I’ve seen it so often.
“But we have no doubt he’s a very good player. Like most strikers, they are a different animal after a goal, like he was at Spurs. He works hard in training, he’ll be a good player.
“We can still improve him. He’s only just turned 23. We knew there would be improvement and he can only get better.”
It’s hard to argue with much Bruce says here, but the simple fact is Joelinton has never played this postion in this style of play before, he isn’t an out and out striker, let alone a back to goal target man who doesn’t get any service.
It’s been quite sad reading the criticism of him this week on social media, I feel like the poor kid is on a hiding to nothing at times. However, it seems Bruce won’t be dropping him, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s one of the wide forwards with Gayle coming into the team as the centre forward, which will probably mean Almiron dropping to the bench.
I’m backing this change to just about see off Wolves. Gayle and Joelinton to score in a 2-1 win.