The Sky Sports pundit revealed that he saw glimpses of the Brazilian’s talent in the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal but pointed out how the player kept dropping too deep after constantly finding himself utterly on his own in the Gunners’ half.
McInally added that in his opinion, Bruce needs to tell Joelinton to stay as high up the pitch as possible, instead of dropping deep to get the ball, as he would make a good focal target.
The pundit then quickly added that Bruce needs to get help to Joelinton, in order for him to be able to not be tempted to drop deep in order to get the ball.
“He was completely and utterly on his own,” said McInally on Sky Sports News (14:12, Saturday, August 17th).
“I think so (did he show promise), I think when he got on the ball, he looked a decent footballer, had decent feet, he had half-chance with a header.
“This was lovely (clip of his effort against Arsenal played), he slalomed his way through, gets his strike in, hit the target, made the keeper make the save.
“I think he is going to spend a lot of time picking the ball up in those sort of areas (just inside the opponent’s half) Jeff, which is too deep for me, he’s got to be pushing right up, Steve Brucie has got to say to them, you’ve got to stretch erm and stay as far up as you can, as you don’t really want him coming in here as you want him to be a focal target.
“But they’ve got to get help to him.”
It’s fair to say that McInally was spot-on with his assessment of Joelinton’s performance.
The Magpies’ attacker hardly touched the ball against Arsenal, particularly in the second half, and only managed to have three shots at goal with only one of his efforts hitting the target. (Source: Premier League)
Joelinton ended up dropping deep in order to get involved, and showed that he was a potentially good target man for the Magpies as he won eight of his aerial duels, as per WhoScored, the only problem was that his teammates didn’t make the most of him being good in the air.
The lack of balls being fired up towards the 23-year-old as the game drew on against Arsenal is what caused him to drop deep, so Bruce clearly needs to tell his players, such as Jonjo Shelvey, to keep the supply line going in order for Joelinton to be able to shine.
Bruce’s players had a tendency to play the ball into Joelinton’s feet due to him dropping deep and while he is capable of turning and running at defences, see how McInally was amazed by him slaloming through Arsenal’s defence, when he’s receiving the ball close to the halfway line he isn’t going to be able to hurdle defences all the way to their goal.
So given that McInally believes Joelinton is a capable player who Bruce needs to find help for, clearly the pundit believes if the manager changes tact and makes it clear that he wants the 23-year-old to remain a focal point by getting his teammates to keep firing balls forward, then it will lead to him shining.