Steve Bruce reacts to 'strange' Joelinton decision at Newcastle United
Joelinton got the nod to replace Callum Wilson in Newcastle United’s starting XI – and the striker found the net.
The £40million sign won – and converted – a penalty in Friday night’s 4-3 defeat to the Premier League champions after being preferred up front to Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll.
Yet fans were not talk about Joelinton’s confident first-half penalty after the game. Instead, they were questioning his “strange” decision to let Joe Willock take a second-half spot kick.
On-loan Willock converted from the spot to score for the fifth consecutive game.
"It was strange on the night – they’ve sorted it out between themselves”, said Steve Bruce.
Asked if he was unhappy that Joelinton hadn't taken the penalty, Bruce said: “No, no. I used to take penalties myself a long time ago.
"There are times when you’re not that confident. I’ve always thought if you’re not that confident, you can give it to somebody else. Whether Joe felt that way, or maybe Joe Willock wanted it that badly for five on the spin, whatever it is, so if you’re confident, I’m always open to it.”
Joelinton has struggled for form – and goals – since joining from Hoffenheim in a club-record deal two years ago.
The 24-year-old’s strike against City took his goal tally for the season to six in all competitions.
Bruce, United’s head coach, was asked after the game if he felt the Brazilian could kick on next season.
“I think he’s coming to terms with the language, coming to terms with the Premier League in terms of England,” said Bruce. “He’s far better than what he was.
"We know there’s a player in there, that’s for sure. But I’m delighted he’s got a few goals now, and looked a threat. I was very, very pleased with him. He’s just got to be that selfish, even when Joe Willock takes the ball off him for the penalty. We’ve got a good player in there."
Newcastle are 16th in the Premier League - and safe from the threat of relegation – with two games left to play.