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Opinion

Paul Scholes salutes Eddie Howe and Joelinton

3 weeks ago
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Paul Scholes has been talking about Newcastle United.

The former Manchester United and England player analysing the NUFC 3-0 win at Carrow Road on Saturday.

One excellent former midfielder, recognising what could be the making of another one these past five months…

Paul Scholes talking to Premier League Productions about Joelinton and Eddie Howe, after Newcastle United win 3-0 at Norwich City – 23 April 2022:

“If you have ever seen a player turn around his career at a club…

“I have never seen anything like this!

“He (Joelinton) was dead and buried playing as a centre-forward.

“Then Eddie Howe brought him in as a midfield player and he is even scoring goals now!

“What a goal that is (to give Newcastle the lead).

“What a great finish.

“Then he is getting on the end of things ( and scoring a second), as well as being industrious in the centre of the pitch.

“He ( Jacob Murphy) did get a little fortune, a little lucky, he’s going for goal (but drags shot across goal) and then Joelinton finishes it well with his left foot.”

So what exactly has happened and who deserves credit (and blame for what went before…)?

It was match 113 on Saturday for Joelinton at Newcastle United, his 100th Premier League appearance for the club.

Arriving on 23 July 2019 for a club record £40m from Hoffenheim.

The then 22 year old Brazilian signing for Newcastle only six days after Steve Bruce was appointed as NUFC Head Coach.

Steve Bruce declaring that the goals would flow after signing this ‘centre-forward’, the former Head Coach also talking of a ‘natural goalscorer’ coming in to fill the number nine shirt.

In the two years and three months that Steve Bruce had Joelinton at his disposal, the Brazilian scored six Premier League goals.

It took an awful long time but Steve Bruce eventually came out and said that actually, Newcastle United had spent £40m on a ‘natural goalscoring centre-forward’, who was not actually a centre-forward, nor a natural goalscorer.

Bruce started to play Joelinton in a more withdrawn role, kind of towards the left hand side, or indeed…not at all.

Yes, after he and Mike Ashley brought in Joelinton for £40m, Steve Bruce in his final 50 Premier League games, started the record signing only 28 times, the Brazilian becoming a regular bench warmer as the former Head Coach didn’t have a clue what to do with him.

Fast forward to the present day and Joelinton looks a completely different player, as Paul Scholes points out. The Brazilian scored in Eddie Howe’s very first game (3-3 home to Brentford) and then again against Brentford in the 2-0 away win, now two more on Saturday against Norwich. Four goals in 21 Premier League starts under Eddie Howe isn’t quite breaking records just yet, BUT when put alongside his now other contributions game after game as a midfielder, if he can also become an 8-10 goals a season midfielder then Newcastle United could have some player.

Nobody pretends that the team is now already ideal. However, Joelinton is one of a number of players who looks far far better under Eddie Howe.

With more / better training, Joelinton now looks fitter and more focused, knows the job he is being asked to do and ticking the boxes in so many ways. Arguably Newcastle’s best player on Saturday, well top two anyway alongside his fellow Brazilian, indeed I would say the now 25 year old has probably been NUFC’s best player over the course of the 23 PL games under Howe.

Not a single Newcastle fan would have predicted this.

In his usual midfield role now, Joelinton winning pretty much every header, so strong when in possession and protecting the ball, physical challenges / winning the ball back, driving forward with the ball.

He has a great engine and with his strength, power, ability in the air and now very apparent heart of the sleeve determination, if also now with added goals (and assists…), maybe not quite the next Paul Scholes, but perhaps looking very much like a £40m Joelinton.

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