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A tale of 40 year old and £40m strikers – How did it come to this?

2 months ago
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It was a dream for headline writers on Saturday.

The £40m ‘superstar’ striker Joelinton failing so abysmally against lowly League One opposition who are four points off the bottom three and had lost eight of their last 10 league games.

The Brazilian unable to take any of a series of decent chances and his movement woeful.

Some fans choose to believe that Joelinton isn’t putting in maximum effort either…only the player himself will know whether that is true or not.

What isn’t in dispute surely, is that in no way does the £4om record signing look like a natural goalscorer, when the ball is delivered into the box  nobody is betting on him getting  on the end if it.

The script was written, old enough to be Joelinton’s father, 40 year old Aaron Wilbraham came off the bench and showed far better movement and sharpness than the player 17 years his junior.

Summed up when Wilbraham made a determined run into the box and buried his chance past Dubravka, to give Rochdale a deserved draw and replay.

Some Newcastle fans at the match showed their frustration with the club’s record signing, rightly or wrongly. What I do know is that at no other club would it have taken this long for supporters to show their frustration at what looks to be an atrocious signing by Newcastle United.

Or should I say, Mike Ashley.

The Newcastle United owner can’t hide behind this one, no way of pushing Lee Charnley out front or even Steve Bruce to take the blame.

Mike Ashley totally owns the signing of Joelinton.

In his infamous PR statement that was published by The Mail on 26 July 2019, Mike Ashley ridiculed Rafa Benitez for refusing to agree to the signing of Joelinton back in late February. Ashley saying that Rafa almost ‘cost’ Newcastle the chance of landing Joelinton and he (Ashley) had (allegedly) told Benitez that he would personally pay £23m from his own pocket (not the club’s) if Rafa would agree to sign the Brazilian.

Embarrassingly, Steve Bruce tried to claim he had played some part in the decision to pay £40m for Joelinton, even though the transfer happened only five days after Bruce was appointed AND both Ashley and Charnley making clear that the summer incoming transfers had been agreed long before the Head Coach was appointed.

The thing is, Mike Ashley should not be that surprised that his signing hasn’t scored bucket loads of goals, though to be fair he could have at least expected a very small bucket load.

Ashley said the £40m deal to buy Joelinton was agreed in late February, until Rafa put a (temporary) block on it. In the final three months of last season, Joelinton only scored one more Bundesliga goal.

Indeed, he had only scored six in the first near seven months of the season and his best ever league return was eight in the mighty Austrian league.

We all come back to the same question, after refusing repeatedly to pay Premier League level transfer fees, why did Mike Ashley suddenly decide that Joelinton was the player Newcastle United HAD to spend £40m on?

There is no logic whatsoever.

No credible goalscoring record, no evidence of having to fight off other clubs for his signature.

Joelinton doesn’t even look like a centre-forward and indeed in his only previous season in a decent level league, Joelinton played as a supporting attacking player out wide. Hoffenheim preferring to play journeyman striker Andrej Kramaric last season through the middle, the striker scoring 17 goals.

He may have previously flopped at Leicester (two goals in 15 Premier League appearances (six starts) after they paid £10m in 2015 but the 28 year old Kramaric has now scored 55 goals in 97 Bundesliga starts (24 sub appearances) with Hoffenheim paying only £8m for him.

Newcastle United had lost their only two goalscorers so why didn’t Mike Ashley want to sign goalscorer Kramaric, rather than non/low goalscorer Joelinton?

Advocates/apologists for Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce claim now that Joelinton isn’t really a centre-forward, well any fool can see that!

It then even further questions the decision of Ashley to insist on this signing.

Likewise, the other signing to replace the goals of Rondon and Perez, the free transfer of a player who struggles to even get on the pitch never mind score a goal. Andy Carroll only starting four of Newcastle’s 23 games so far and once again now injured, he hasn’t even made a goalkeeper pull off a serious save so far.

When you add a clueless lower league Head Coach such as Steve Bruce, it adds a very thick extra level to this striker mess at St James Park.

Playing Joelinton and Carroll together is abysmal.

If Joelinton has any strength to his game, it appears to be trying to set up other players making runs.

At Old Trafford, Joelinton played an excellent ball to send Gayle through one on one with De Gea, then shortly afterwards set up Matty Longstaff for the goal with some intelligent play.

Joelinton has a serious lack of movement as a striker but looks like a blur compared to Carroll who is so slow it defies belief.

If Joelinton is to be persevered with and with that indeed looking to be the case – Mike Ashley would never accept such an early loss of face if Newcastle sold the Brazilian for the £10m or so he is really worth and indeed at the moment no club would pay that and his wages.

So get Gayle through the middle (or buy a proper quality centre-forward this month) and see if Joelinton can grow as a player in the Premier League as a supporting attacking player.

What we can take from this farce is that Mike Ashley’s preferred model is a total disaster. The owner choosing which players to buy and employing a desperate lower league and low ability head coach with no power other than training and picking the team, will 100% lead to yet another relegation, sooner or later.

Joelinton must be just as bemused as we are, at the situation he has walked into. It doesn’t excuse some of his abysmal performances and rarely even looking like scoring BUT we ll know that only one person is really to blame for this entire mess and that is Mike Ashley.

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