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Dubious media ‘Exclusive’ claims key to solving Joelinton problems at Newcastle United

1 year ago
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Joelinton has now played 802 Premier League minutes with only a single goal to show for it.

The issue of the Brazilian’s lack of goals and indeed the entire team’s failings on that front, have been the subject of much debate.

On Sunday night, Peter Crouch pointed to the poor/non-existent service to the Brazilian as a major contributory factor.

A week ago, The Athletic (see below), had an interesting piece on the main ‘playmaker’ at each Premier League club over the course of the first nine games, defined as the player who is part of the most passing moves that end in a shot for any player on their team.

Not surprisingly, at the vast majority of clubs it was a midfielder. However, at four clubs it was a striker and that included Newcastle, Joelinton involved 34 times in passing moves ending in shots, more than any of those strikers at the other three clubs. The obvious conclusion being that the Brazilian is having to come deep far too often to get involved in any play, something which we can also see with our own eyes.

Monday’s ‘Exclusive’ from The Telegraph though suggests Joelinton may be ‘lonely’ (Exclusive: Newcastle United looking to protect “lonely” Joelinton as Steve Bruce wrestles with striking problems), no not lonely because he never sees another player once the match kicks off…instead pointing to potentially a lack of family and friends around him. The report saying Newcastle United are going to encourage the player to bring more family over, or at least more often.

All a bit dubious really. Anybody can end up feeling lonely, at any age, but Joelinton moved to Europe from Brazil as an 18 year old and has spent these past four seasons playing in Germany, Austria, Austria and Germany.

So whilst I can imagine loneliness and getting used to a new language/culture/country being something that plays a part, it looks far more likely to me that other factors are having a far more negative effect.

The (attempted) joke above about loneliness on the pitch was only half joking, as surely this is the massive problem. Steve Bruce’s overly negative tactics leaving Joelinton isolated with other players far too deep to properly support (which The Telegraph piece does also mention), with of course then a shocking lack of decent service impacting at the same time. Fernandez produced that superb cross for Lascelles’ goal on Sunday, how many times have we seen a cross as good as that this season?

From The Telegraph report:

‘The striker has also been encouraged to spend as much time as possible at the training ground with Andy Carroll, who has been asked to act as a mentor to the Brazilian. Joelinton is still trying to improve his command of the English language – another complicating factor in his acclimatisation process – but has shown a willingness to learn.

However, the club feel he could benefit from spending some time with his family on Tyneside. As he did in Germany, Joelinton is living on his own in an apartment in Newcastle, but there is no reason why family and friends cannot come to visit him in the lead up to the frenetic Christmas period.

…former Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez refused to sanction the transfer at the start of the year, although he felt Joelinton was a good prospect, he was not convinced the player was worth the money Newcastle were willing to pay and wanted control of where the £40m was invested.

That has not helped perceptions of the deal – and huge question marks hang over the handling of a negotiation that saw the Magpies agree to pay such a large some of money when there was little if any competition for his signature – but Bruce feels he must be given more time to adapt.

Instead, Newcastle’s coaching staff want to protect the striker and there is a chance he will be taken out of the starting line up against West Ham next weekend after a series of ineffectual displays.

The problem Bruce has is that Carroll is unlikely to have recovered from the groin strain that kept him out of the 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Dwight Gayle is obviously lacking match fitness, missing virtually all of pre-season training with a calf problem.’

On the subject of Dwight Gayle and a supposed lack of match fitness. he has been back on the bench the last few matches and in the past four weeks Newcastle reserves have had four games. So if he needs time on the pitch to be able to then play for the first team, why hasn’t Steve Bruce involved Gayle in those games.

It was announced this morning that Florian Lejeune is playing tonight for the reserves to help push him on towards first team availability, so why not Dwight Gayle as well?

As for Joelinton, if you are enjoying your football then pretty much everything else will fall into place, so here’s hoping he will at last be given a system by Steve Bruce that encourages the rest of the team to move further up the pitch, especially the other players expected to create and score goals.

The Mag – 20 October 2019:

Fair to say the jury is still out on Joelinton.

The then 22 year old brought in this summer to carry the main burden of replacing the 25 Premier League goals from last season, that were lost when Mike Ashley sold Ayoze Perez and didn’t allow an offer to be made for Salomon Rondon.

The Brazilian had never scored more than eight goals in a season and that was in the weak Austrian league.

However, he had scored seven Bundesliga goals last season and got five assists, though playing wide in an attacking trio for Hoffenheim.

Despite that it was insisted that Joelinton is a centre-forward and main goalscorer, not a wide attacking player.

There has still been no explanation as to why Mike Ashley was so insistent on Newcastle having to spend £40m on this particular player, having only allowed Rafa Benitez to spend more than £10m on a single player for the first time since promotion in January, when Almiron arrived.

Whatever those Ashley reasons were, the fact is we have a £40m striker with only one goal in nine games.

So what is the reason(s) for this?

An excellent report from The Athletic might have the answer, or at least a large part of it.

They posed this question (and answered it) ahead of this weekend’s Premier League action.

‘Who is your team’s true playmaker? This new metric has the answer’

The Athletic reporting:

‘What constitutes a playmaker?

‘In official terms, it exclusively refers to players who are regular assisters. 

But that only refers to a specific part of playmaking. Look at it from another perspective — literally “making the play” — and it seems to refer to a different type of footballer entirely, someone who operates deeper and prompts the passing moves which eventually culminate with an assist and a goal. The term “deep-lying playmaker” covers this a little more but that specifically refers to a holding midfielder with a good passing range. What if a team’s true playmaker, the man who makes the play, is actually a full-back? Or a centre-forward?

To take account of passing contributions that aren’t credited with an assist or a “key pass”, a worthwhile exercise is counting the ‘shot-ending sequence involvements’, to use Opta’s definition, of each player. In other words, rather than just crediting the final passer, you can go back and credit every player involved in the passing move leading up to the goal.

Sometimes, this is particularly important because the most impressive contribution to a goal comes from neither the goalscorer nor the assister.’

When they looked at each Premier League club, they discovered which player in each team had been involved the most times in passing sequences that ended up with a shot.

Not surprisingly, they found that overwhelmingly it was midfield players in most cases, indeed that being true for 15 Premier League clubs.

An interesting oddity was a 16th, a defender. However, this was Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool, who spends so much time marauding forward rather than defending.

Now we get to the interesting part about Joelinton and indeed three other clubs/players.

The Athletic reporting on the other four club and their main ‘playmaker’:

‘These are Burnley’s Ashley Barnes, Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson, Newcastle’s Joelinton and Wolves’ Raul Jimenez.

‘It’s significant that these are the four Premier League sides who have averaged the least possession this season — there’s less opportunity for players in deeper positions to contribute to shots.’

The report found that before this weekend’s games, Ashley Barnes had been involved in 25 passing moves that ended in a shot, for either themselves or a teammate.

Callum Wilson was top for Bournemouth, having been involved in 26 passing sequences that ended in a shot, whilst Raul Jimenez at Wolves was the same at his club with 30.

However, Joelinton was top at Newcastle with the highest of any with involvement in 34 passing sequences ending in a shot for an NUFC player this season.

So whilst the Brazilian has missed a few decent chances, this report shows that his overall contribution to the team has been key to the relative positives that there have been.

The question now is can Steve Bruce chance his tactics and not be so negative, get more possession and get the team higher up the pitch so that Joelinton can help out in the build up and drop deep at times BUT get himself into the penalty area far more and the team create a decent number of chances for himself and other players.

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