Graeme Jones' revealing remark hints at Newcastle United's new direction
The Premier League table doesn’t look much better this morning.
Newcastle United remain 19th in the Premier League, and winless, following the weekend’s 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace.
And the club remains deep in trouble just over a fortnight after it was finally sold by Mike Ashley.
Investment, we know, is coming on and off the pitch at United, now 80%-owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. It can’t come soon enough, but January’s transfer window is still more than two months away.
And, somehow, the team must get to the window without being cut drift in the relegation zone.
Newcastle are three points adrift following their result at Selhurst Park – Callum Wilson claimed a point with a stunning overhead equaliser – and Premier League leaders and European champions Chelsea are next up at St James’s Park.
The Palace game wasn’t pretty – United had just 25% possession – and that’s how it’s going to have to be at times.
Under former head coach Steve Bruce, the team shipped far too many goals this season – 19 in the first eight games – and tightening up at the back is an immediate priority.
Coach Graeme Jones, put in interim charge last week by the club’s new owners, needs to build a platform. The team was wide open in Bruce’s final game in charge against Tottenham Hotspur, and that shapeless second-half mess condemned the team to another defeat.
Jones said at Selhurst Park that the result had “stopped the rot”.
"We’ll take it (the point),” said Jones. “It’s a starting place. We’ve stopped the rot, and we’ll try and build again for next week.”
Time will tell if that’s the case, but another of Jones’s post-match comments was more revealing. The 51-year-old said that he and his players would be working all week ahead of the Chelsea game.
“We’ve got five days leading into the Chelsea game to try and improve as much as we can,” said Jones, who was recruited in January for “fresh ideas” with the team winless in 11 games in all competitions.
One complaint about Bruce’s time was the amount of time the players were given off by Bruce, who angered fans with a trip to Portugal during an early-season international break.
There are no quick fixes at the club right now. Hard work is needed.
It’ll take Bruce’s successor time to rebuild a team which had badly needed more investment in the summer.
The club went backwards in terms of its relative squad strength in the last window, but with work, organisation and application, Newcastle can start taking strides forward on the pitch over the coming weeks ahead of January.
Newcastle had a worse start three years ago, and then-manager Rafa Benitez said it would be a “miracle” if the club avoided relegation that season. The club, of course, did just that – and finished 13th. So there’s still time.
Yes, the table still looks bad, but the takeover, and the departure of Bruce, have already made a difference off the pitch.
The club has been reunited – and this is hugely important. This togetherness, and sense of purpose, will hopefully help the team over what is certain to be a tough few months.