The special Newcastle United moment which says it all about Joelinton and his relationship with fans

Joelinton took a moment to take it all in. And then another to take it in a little more.

Sunday, 27th February 2022, 12:13 pm

His team-mates, having applauded Newcastle United’s 1,700 travelling fans, had turned and were heading for the tunnel. Joelinton chose to stay a while longer, applauding with his hands raised above his head.

It was quite an afternoon for the striker-turned-midfielder, who had scored the first of the club’s two goals in yesterday’s 2-0 win over Brentford.

Joelinton rose above Kristoffer Ajer to head a Ryan Fraser cross home in the 33rd minute.

The 25-year-old ran the length of the pitch to celebrate the strike, his second of the season.

"It's a great feeling to score," said Joelinton. “I ran to the fans because they support me and the team. It's a long trip here, and the deserve it. They are always behind us.”

Joelinton’s first goal had come in the home fixture against Brentford, which was Eddie Howe’s first game in charge.

So much has changed since then, not least the club’s Premier League position.

Newcastle United's Joelinton celebrates scoring his team's first goal.

Newcastle, 20th after November’s 3-3 draw against Brentford at St James’s Park, moved up to 14th place after their win at the Brentford Community Stadium, the scene of an embarrassing behind-closed-doors Carabao Cup defeat for the club last season.

There was no embarrassment this time for United fans at the final whistle, only pride.

Howe, over the past few months, has energised and organised the players he inherited when he succeeded Steve Bruce. January’s arrivals, of course, have also helped.

The 44-year-old’s moulded them into a fiercely-competitive unit which has been able to cope without Allan Saint-Maximin, Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson, three of Howe’s best players.

The whole has been greater than the sum of the parts, and this bodes well for the coming weeks and months.

“It’s very good to see the team able to cope,” said Howe. “If you see the players that are missing, there are some really outstanding individuals, but the team's being strong enough at the moment.”

Willock, certainly, has come to the fore in the absence of Saint-Maximin, who has sat out the club’s last two fixtures with the calf problem problem he suffered in a win over Aston Villa earlier this month.

The midfielder, so important in the latter part of last season while on loan from Arsenal, doubled Newcastle’s advantage before the break with his second goal in as many games.

It was a lovely finish, but the afternoon, which also saw a longer cameo from Bruno Guimaraes, belonged to Joelinton, signed as a striker for £40million the summer Bruce was appointed.

Joelinton may be a lot of things, but he’s not an out-and-out striker.

The move to midfielder has suited him, His powerful runs forward, and defensive work, have added so much to the team. He’s been unplayable at time, and the only thing that’s been missing from his game has been goals.

And that’s why the afternoon – and that strike – was so significant for Joelinton, who’s now, unquestionably, a £40million midfielder.

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