The redemption of Joelinton – from big money flop to firm fan favourite

Under Steve Bruce, Joelinton cut a sorry figure. Purchased for a club record fee at the time, the Brazilian striker failed to justify his price tag with even the likes of club great Alan Shearer questioning the striker’s ability to find the net.

However, with a change of manager in Eddie Howe, Joelinton has emerged as a new fan favourite under the ex Bournemouth manager. A change in manager was followed by a change in position for the former Hoffenheim man, no longer used as a target man striker. Rather, Howe has utilised Newcastle’s number 7 through the centre of the park in a midfield trio. Joelinton has looked braver and more determined as a result, never the lone striker Steve Bruce billed him as. Rather, as seen in the Brentford away win which continues Newcastle’s recent impressive form, Joelinton is far more than just a goalscorer. He may have nodded in a header to give The Magpies the lead, but his switch to midfield has allowed more of his hidden strengths to shine.

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Never the most prolific striker during his time in Brazil, Germany and beyond, Eddie Howe has tuned into components of his game that other managers have simply overlooked. His goalscoring form during his first full season at Tyneside was ridiculed, only netting four goals in 44 games. Purchased as this new mega-money buy, many would have expected the ex-Hoffenheim man to lead from the front and score goals by the bucket load. Joelinton had become a victim of his transfer fee, alongside being mis-sold to Newcastle fans as a striker who would take the Premier League by storm. The general dismay around Newcastle for years wouldn’t have helped Joelinton’s cause, the hardened St. James’ Park faithful used to grumbling and moaning at their under performing players alongside voicing frustrations with the previous chairman in Mike Ashley and his corrupt empire over the club. Breaking the bank was unusual for Ashley, therefore the failure of Joelinton to adapt and to perform would have stung more.

Yet, with the new owners coming in and Steve Bruce finally being relieved of his duties after a torrid time on Tyneside, optimism was back. After a slow start under Eddie Howe, a recent unbeaten run has propelled Newcastle out of the relegation mire with Kieran Trippier netting two brilliant free kicks in back-to-back home wins in front of an jovial St. James’ Park crowd. Using their new signing Chris Wood up top – the New Zealand international used to being the lofty target-man – Joelinton is now being used far more effectively in midfield with Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock usually featuring alongside him. Far more than just a one-dimensional striker who can tap the ball into the net, Joelinton is a shining example of why you should never write off a player down in the dumps. A remnant of the old doom and gloom that engulfed the Toon, he is now a key part of the promising future on the horizon.

The new and improved Joelinton was there for all to see in Newcastle’s match against Manchester United in late December, the Brazilian delivering a masterclass in the middle even when facing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes for The Red Devils. His work-rate against Manchester United made it hard for Ralf Rangnick’s men to get a foot hold in the contest, making the most interceptions for The Magpies on the night with four. Not shying away from getting the ball either, he made the most successful passes for Eddie Howe’s men in his new position in central midfield. A sign of a great manager is not just sending out your players to deliver results, it’s being able to improve your players and transform them into better players as a result – Eddie Howe has seemingly done that with his number 7, a figure many had concluded wasn’t good enough. Praised by his boss for being selfless, his hard work for the team has proven vital in Newcastle lifting themselves up to 15th recently.

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Newcastle have defied expectations, going from relegation certainties who couldn’t buy a win to comfortably having their heads above water. A renewed belief in their ability collectively, Joelinton has benefitted the most from the toxic atmosphere changing to one of a tight-knit togetherness. A passionate fan base who can dish it out when you’re falling short of the mark, the Magpies faithful will ensure battlers for their team get their fair amount of praise and worship. Recent away trips have seen certain members of the Newcastle travelling contingent wear Hawaiian shirts, Hawaiian shirts with the added inclusion of Joelinton’s face adorned all over. The transformation is remarkable, once the scapegoat for every ill has now become a saviour in the eyes of the Newcastle fanbase.

Another win on the board last time out against Brentford saw Joelinton star again, steering home a powerful header after a cross from Ryan Fraser found him perfectly. His goal celebration against The Bees felt poignant, accelerating up the pitch to celebrate with the Newcastle away support. Punching the air in obvious jubilation, the roar that followed from the Magpies faithful making the trip down telling you all you need to know – the Brazilian is adored now after so much derision was thrown his way. The Brazilian made sure to clap the ecstatic away support off at the full-time whistle, Joe Willock adding more gloss to the victory with a breakaway strike late into the first half to ensure a 2-0 win.

Emotional in his post-match thoughts, the passion and desire to do well for Newcastle beamed out from the Brazilian. Etched into Newcastle folklore for such a dramatic turnaround, Eddie Howe’s nous as a manager to change around the misfiring striker’s fortunes is a masterstroke that is paying off. With the most duels won for Newcastle against Brentford, he will continue to battle even with his redemption complete. Now, with the past anxieties about being an expensive flop behind him, Joelinton is enjoying his football again as the dark cloud that hangs over Newcastle has finally lifted.

The Author

Kelan Sarson

Peterborough United supporter, football writer + current MA Journalism student at the Uni of Sheffield. Twitter account for football writing - @sarsonkelan

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