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Opinion

Is Joelinton the new Jon Dahl Tomasson?

3 weeks ago
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You can say what you want about Steve Bruce but one thing that hasn’t really been said, is that he doesn’t help himself.

I know little about what he got up to at other clubs, merely what I have read, and sadly a lot of it rings quite familiar with what we’re seeing at Newcastle United.

The admission that he doesn’t do tactics is the most famous one.

That he has initial short-term success followed by a massive failure to pick up results is playing out before our very eyes.

What I also know is that what I see going on, on the pitch, is quite shocking.

Not many (if any) teams play with two strikers up front these days but as we don’t have a decent goal threat at the club, playing one striker isn’t really a viable option and is severely hampering the team, but more worryingly Steve Bruce doesn’t seem to see this. You’d think with the vast experience he has in the game, he would have a bit more about him than what he is showing.

The two best strike partnerships I’ve seen in my lifetime at the club, coincidentally involve the same man, Alan Shearer. Now we certainly don’t have a striker of the quality of Shearer but in the 90s he had ‘Sir’ Les Ferdinand as his foil and boy did they look a potent threat. Fast forward to 2001 and for a few years, Craig Bellamy was the legs that kept Alan evergreen and scoring goals. We can argue all day about the Welshman’s attitude and how that scuppered things for the player’s future at the club but one thing’s for sure, he was electric. The thing is, he wasn’t a natural finisher and didn’t score bags of goals.

Crucially, he got into the positions to miss chances, something which I see current striker Dwight Gayle as a glaringly similar player.

When Les Ferdinand was sold in 97 (to balance the books) Newcastle United lost a sure fire thing. They lost a goal threat and boy did the team suffer. The fact that Alan Shearer knackered himself in a pre-season friendly is immaterial. If we had kept Les Ferdinand that summer, we would have been infinitely better that season with or without Shearer.

Now, who did we bring in as a replacement for Les? Answer- Jon Dahl Tomasson. Whoops, big mistake.

That season, Tomasson couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo. After stuttering in his first few games, including missing gilt edge chances against Sheffield Wednesday at St James Park on the opening day, the new recruit faltered and was eventually consigned to the rubbish bin, which I have to admit was harsh on the boy. He was quite awful during that period but he WASN’T a striker. He was a player that should have been played behind the strikers and not relied on to be the main goal-getter. His career certainly rose after he left us and he won pretty much everything, tearing up defences across Europe. Typical!

This brings me onto Joelinton, as his situation is remarkably similar to that of Jon Dahl Tomasson. Joelinton was brought to the club to replace the goals lost when the club decided not to retain the services of Salomon Rondon. The price the club have paid is up for serious debate but largely irrelevant. The fact that the goals simply haven’t been replaced is the main issue.

On both occasions (1997/98 and 2019/20) the club lost a massive amount of goals and placed faith in people ill-qualified to replicate previous success. I’ve been banging the same drum for weeks now that the ONLY way forward is to play Andy Carroll AND Dwight Gayle as our forward two, yet Steve Bruce (no doubt with pressure from above) looks happy to let Gayle go and further deplete our goalscoring options. Barmy!

You can scoff at Gayle’s Premiership record and I fully admit, he’s a great Championship striker and little more, but WITH a solid partner he could be the poorer relation to another, better, goalscoring forward in much the way Craig Bellamy was to Alan Shearer.

Now keeping Andy Carroll fit is a task in itself but THAT is the way forward, NOT persisting with the developing duck egg that is Joelinton. It’s one thing looking ineffective and toothless against top level opposition in the Premier League but not putting Rochdale from League One to the sword is quite shameful. Maybe we could loan him to the Mackems?

If Steve Bruce is being pressured into playing the Brazilian by owner Mike Ashley then the man should walk away from the job never to return. Certainly Ashley was (via his PR utterances) the biggest advocate of signing Joelinton and it became a bone of contention between he and manager Rafa Benitez. Benitez refused to sanction a deal for him and so the Spaniard was ousted. A clear winner in the eyes of the fans is our former manager and rightly so. At £40m, the deal stinks.

Still, whatever is running through the mind of Steve Bruce we drift on. Impotent, lacking ideas going forward and with every passing game we fail to see a striker, or our £40m man, score a goal. Our defenders seem to chip in with more vital goals than the strikers and indeed, going back through our Premier League history, if you had said that our main goal threat had one solitary goal by the halfway point of the season, you wouldn’t half have got some funny looks.

Persisting with the flagship signing of last summer (forced or otherwise) will be the shaming of Steve Bruce and will ultimately cost him and the club.

It’s a fair bet that Joelinton won’t end up as top scorer for us this season as Jonjo Shelvey back in midfield has five goals himself, which as we plough through January is looking like an unassailable challenge for any of our forward line to match.

Another self-inflicted mess.

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