Joelinton might’ve only scored two league goals in his debut season – but Bruce’s support for the Brazilian never wavered as he featured in all 38 Premier League games.
Speaking to the press yesterday, the NUFC boss has also compared him to former Man Utd midfielder Juan Sebastien Veron – believing he’s another talented South American who was outstanding on the training ground but took time to adapt.
Bruce has also advised Joelinton to ‘stay off social media’ and ignore the idiots ‘hitting him with a stick’, feeling too much ‘nonsense’ has been said about his first season at St James’ Park.
Here’s what the gaffer’s had to say, starting with a response to rumours suggesting the 24-year-old could leave on loan, with Fenerbahce linked:
“There was no temptation whatsoever to let him go.
“We saw with the second goal at Morecambe (top corner from 20 yards), it gives you a clue to his ability.
“We see it – or I see it – on the training ground.
“The thing he has to come to terms with is adapting to the Premier League, and he has struggled with that, like a lot of great players.
“I think Joe will benefit from the fact he understands what is coming more now.
“He still has improvement in him.
“I had no intention of letting Joe go anywhere, we have to keep working with him.”
Bruce also commented on how much of an impact Tuesday’s game could have on his low confidence levels, with him also commenting on the Veron comparison and urging the Brazilian to ignore what’s said about him online:
“He will certainly get a little bit of confidence from scoring a couple the other night.
“Because, when you’re constantly kicked, sometimes it can bash away at you, and no-one is immune to that.
“The Man U lads told me about Juan Sebastian Veron. What a player on the training ground. They all thought he was the best they’d worked with but he never hit the heights the Man U players thought because adapting to England and the food and weather is very very difficult.
“The more they are here and get used to England, help them.
“He will turn into a really big player for us.
“We just want him confident.
“This constant hitting him with a stick, I hope he doesn’t read the nonsense of social media.
“I’ll remind him of what a good player he is.”
“We will keep supporting him.
“We have to find it and get the best out of him.”
I think some forget that he arrived in England on his own as an inexperienced 22-year-old with BIG pressure on young shoulders. He didn’t speak the language, left his entire family and friends behind and was thrown into a totally new environment.
All that aside, he was in a new and incredibly demanding league and expected to perform immediately in a poor team.
Joelinton clearly has the backing of the manager but he still hasn’t won over the fans, with some ‘supporters’ focusing to criticise that miss at Morecambe or the fact it was a League Two rather than focus on his two goals, 30-yard screamer and much improved display.
The entire fan needs to join the manager in supporting our most expensive player ever – maybe then he’ll have the confidence to show what he’s really capable of.