Paul Merson watched on from the Sky Sports studios as Newcastle United eventually beat ten man West Ham.
The Sky Sports pundit picking out one of the goalscorers as having repaid what Newcastle have invested in him.
You won’t be surprised to discover that it wasn’t our free scoring Brazilian, Joelinton having scored his fifth goal from a few yards out in his 64th Premier League appearance to make it 2-0.
Instead it’s Joe Willock that Paul Merson was talking about.
The midfielder introduced in the 81st minute after Steve Bruce’s bizarre negative tactics against ten men, had invited West Ham to control the second half and eventually accept the invitation to score the two goals to level the match.
Within seconds of his introduction, Joe Willock was arriving in the box and powering a bullet header past Fabianski to win the match, a great left wing cross from Matt Ritchie.
Inspired Steve Bruce substitution? Hmmmm…
Dropped after the 3-0 defeat at Brighton, since then Willock came on in the 79th minute against Tottenham and scored an 85th minute equaliser to earn NUFC a point in a 2-2 draw.
Then left on the bench against Burnley as it was Allan Saint-Maximin’s turn to save Steve Bruce’s bacon in that 2-1 turn around.
Yesterday an 81st minute appearance off the bench.
Joe Willock said on Saturday after the match that Steve Bruce had told him he wasn’t doing enough to get in the starting eleven.
Something Newcastle fans will find astonishing, considering how Jonjo Shelvey keeps his place regardless of his lack of influence in matches.
From the trio of options, I have zero doubt that Willock would be first choice by Newcastle fans to be starting, Sean Longstaff second, with Shelvey a distant third.
Paul Merson talking to Sky Sports after Joe Willock wins the game for Newcastle with an 82nd minute goal to beat West Ham:
“I didn’t realise but Tim [Sherwood] told me that he [Joe Willock] is quite a tall lad.
“It is a good header…a real good header.
“That is what he was brought into the club to do.
“To get into the box late.
“He scored a massive goal not long ago off the bar [in the 85th minute against Spurs to grab a 2-2 draw].
“And now he’s just scored a massive goal again for Newcastle [against West Ham].
“He has repaid his loan deal, no problem, with them two goals.”
Following the 3-2 win over West Ham, Steve Bruce was asked about the Joe Willock situation:
“We would love to keep him here.
“He is the type of player you would love to build your club around.
“Whether we can or not I’m not quite sure.”
Newcastle fans will be laughing at Steve Bruce (not for the first time…), as last summer he was saying he was keen to sign both Danny Rose and Nabil Bentaleb after they had been poor to terrible in their loan spells. Yet despite both clubs (Tottenham and Schalke) having been desperate to shift the pair of them out permanently and with zero competition to sign them, Steve Bruce and Newcastle did nothing.
Now we have a situation where a goal scoring box to box athletic midfielder can’t even get a game ahead of Jonjo Shelvey, yet Steve Bruce claims he is desperate to sign Joe Willock and build the ‘club’ around him???
In 612 minutes, seven starts and two sub appearances, Joe Willock already has three Premier League goals (having also scored on his NUFC debut in the 3-2 win over Southampton) for Newcastle United and with goalscoring midfielders in the English top tier carrying such a premium, there would be no shortage of takers in the summer ready to give the Arsenal player a try.
Arsenal have any number of good midfield options and beyond doubt I think, they will be looking to sell and raise cash to strengthen their team and squad elsewhere.
Looking into my black and white crystal ball, I foresee the following…half a dozen Premier League clubs ready to pay the Arsenal asking price for Joe Willock, whilst Steve Bruce says he was very very disappointed that Newcastle’s very very ambitious loan offer failed.
Instead, we will be treated to the sight of Jonjo Shelvey keeping the centre-backs company as usual, rarely getting in the opposition half never mind in the box, continuing his poor return (only one PL goal and two assists so far this season and indeed only one PL goal these past 16 months).
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 3 West Ham 2 – Saturday 17 April 12.30pm
Diop OG 36, Joelinton 41, Willock 82
Diop 73, Lingard 80 pen, Dawson sent off 36
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was West Ham 65% (70%) Newcastle 35% (30%)
Total shots were West Ham 16 (4) Newcastle 16 (11)
Shots on target were West Ham 6 (1) Newcastle 8 (6)
Corners were West Ham 8 (2) Newcastle 3 (3)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Dubravka, Murphy, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Sean Longstaff (Willock 81), Almiron, Joelinton (Carroll 90+8), Saint-Maximin (Wilson 64)
Gillespie, Gayle, Krafth, Lewis, Manquillo, Hendrick
(Bizarre Steve Bruce claims after Newcastle 3 West Ham 2 – Read HERE)
(3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 3 West Ham 2 – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 3 West Ham 2 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 3 West Ham 2 – Joe Willock saves Steve Bruce’s very lucky bacon – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 3 West Ham 2 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s eventful win – Read HERE)