How Newcastle United’s dressing room reacted to Joelinton's brilliant 100th Premier League appearance

The last Newcastle United player to leave the field at Carrow Road was Joelinton.

Thursday, 28th April 2022, 12:30 pm

Eddie Howe and his players had gone to the club’s 2,650-strong travelling support after last Saturday’s 3-0 win over Norwich City.

Those fans had seen their club, winless until November, climb up to ninth in the Premier League thanks to two goals from Joelinton and another from midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, his Brazilian countryman.

In the away end, there were Brazil flags in honour of Joelinton and Guimaraes, the poster boys of Howe’s “new” Newcastle.

Eventually, Joelinton – who had memorably scored two goals in one game for the first time on what was his 100th Premier League appearance – headed towards the dressing room while still applauding the club’s fans, who were singing a song in his honour.

Joelinton’s team-mates were waiting for him in the away changing room, and the place “erupted” when the forward-turned-midfielder – who had started the game up front after Chris Wood was rested before being move to the left – walked through the door.

“I’m so happy for him – he deserves it,” said midfielder Sean Longstaff.

“The way he’s been this season since he’s changed his role, and then to go a little further forward and show how effective he can be there. Everyone’s so happy for him. The changing room’s so happy.

Joelinton acknowledges Newcastle United fans at Carrow Road.

“You’ve seen him when he came in, the whole room erupted. When you see how hard someone works day in, day out, and where he went from the unfair criticism he used to get, and to now where everyone loves him, which is how it’s always been for us.

“We knew he had the ability and quality. Hopefully, that will continue for a long time.”

Joelinton – who struggled for form in his first two seasons at St James’s Park following his move from Hoffenheim in the summer of 2019 – has been outstanding under Eddie Howe since Ciaran Clark’s early dismissal in the home game against Norwich in late December saw him switched to midfield.

The 25-year-old, we know, isn’t a £40million No.9, but he looks every bit a £40million midfielder.

Sean Longstaff returned to Newcastle United's starting XI at Carrow Road.

“He’s been outstanding,” said Longstaff. “We could have cheered him every single game. Today was his day. I think it was 100 Premier League appearances for him. It’s such a special day.

“Two goals, he deserves it. He’s a joy to be around every day. I’m over the moon for him.”

Longstaff – who is in talks over a new deal at the club with his contract set to expire at the end of the season – had come into the team as one of four changes to the starting XI.

The 24-year-old has found his opportunities limited by the form of Joelinton and others in midfielder, but head coach Howe and his staff have ensured that he’s been fully part of the team.

“He’s been brilliant, the gaffer,” said Longstaff. “You can ask anybody in the changing room. Just the way he’s gone about his business, he’s someone you want to play for.

"When you’re not playing, it can become easy to lose interest, but not under this manager or staff. They’ve got everyone together, pulling in the same direction.

"No matter where people play position-wise, everyone’s ready to run through brick walls for them. When that happens, you start picking up results. It’s another great day for the manager. It’s four on the bounce. We haven’t done that in a little while. It’s another great achievement for him.”

Amid excitement among fans ahead of next season, Howe, preparing his team for Saturday’s home game against second-placed Liverpool, must also ensure that his players don’t look beyond the next game.

“I think, at the minute, we’re just trying to finish as high as we can this season,” said Longstaff. “I don’t think the staff will really let us get ahead of ourselves.

"People are playing for contracts and futures, and everyone wants to be part of what’s happening at the club. It would be selfish of players to start looking too far ahead. I think everyone’s focused on the next game, or the next day’s training, really.

"I think that’s what the staff have instilled into us, and I think it’s showing at the minute how good we can be when everyone’s pulling in the same direction.”

The future of the club looks bright following a £305million takeover late last year, and Longstaff, himself a fan, is excited about the possibilities in the coming years.

United’s new owners want the club, which last won a major trophy in 1969, to compete for silverware at home and abroad.

And the club’s £80million-plus spend in January on Guimaraes and others was a first step towards addressing the under-investment of the Mike Ashley years.

Longstaff said: "I think everyone associated with the club – fans, players, new ownership – want that. We want to be pushing up the table.

"They’re getting the right people in the right places, and that’s the recipe for success. I think, for the club, it’s great, and as a fan, obviously I want us to go to the very top, and in a few years time see some massive games at St James’s Park. The fans deserve it.”

Newcastle are six points behind eighth-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Leicester City, a point behind them in 10th place, have two games in hand on Howe’s side.