Joelinton badly let Steve Bruce down as Newcastle United were forced to settle for a point against Aston Villa on Friday night.
The Brazilian was once again backed to offer a clinical touch in the final third in Callum Wilson’s absence, but his decision-making was relentlessly for the worse.
Too often at St James’ Park did Joelinton select the wrong option when presented with a chance to shoot at Emiliano Martinez’s goal or to pick out the correct pass to a supporting teammate.
Should Bruce bench Newcastle’s Joelinton?
Yes, he’s not up to standard
No, he can offer a threat
Joelinton’s night had begun promisingly when the £86,500-per-week forward was involved in a piece of nice link-up play with fellow forwards Dwight Gayle and Ryan Fraser, with the trio combining well to register Newcastle’s first shot of the game in the fifth minute.
Villa soon found a foothold in proceedings to begin taking control, making Joelinton’s failings ever more punishing for Newcastle whenever they sought to hit Dean Smith’s side on the break.
The only true positive to come from Joelinton’s performance was that, despite his clear lack of confidence, he kept pushing to try and put pressure on the Villans backline and give Tyrone Mings something to occasionally think about.
Bruce was clearly pleased with what he saw from the £18m-rated striker he signed in 2019 for a club-record £40m, having offered his support for Joelinton to soon end his drought in front of goal which now reads 15 games in all competitions.
“Joelinton has come in for criticism, but he’s contributed to the team,” Bruce told BT Sport, via quotes shared by the Shields Gazette. “He needs to score a goal, and be the hero, and I’m sure there’s a goal or two around the corner.”
Joelinton had plenty of opportunities to end his goal drought against Aston Villa, only for his decision-making to prove costly and almost prevent Newcastle from taking any points had it not been for Jamaal Lascelles providing a crucial stoppage-time header to steal a draw.
United were often able to find Joelinton in good positions against their Birmingham-based opposition, yet he only attempted two shots with neither on target while providing just one key pass, per SofaScore. Lascelles, Fraser and Gayle each attempted two shots for the Toon as well but managed to direct at least one on target.
Fraser also offered a joint team-high two key passes – only Trezeguet (3) offered more for Villa – yet was slammed by Chronicle Live for not delivering in what was an unnatural false nine role for the Scotland winger.
The ex-Bournemouth maestro further won 100% of his ground duels while Joelinton lost 50% of his 18 challenges, alongside nine of his 13 aerial contests (losing 18 duels in total) to help see that he turned over possession 21 times – a joint game-high with Jonjo Shelvey, per Sofascore.
While Joelinton’s workrate often kept Mings busy, the England international was also able to win six of his eight aerial duels and five of 11 ground challenges to keep a lid on the Magpies forward.
With Wilson not expected to make his return from a hamstring injury until after the March international break, Bruce cannot have Joelinton offering so little in Newcastle’s attack.