Graeme Jones last managed a team when Luton drew at Wigan but he now takes charge of Newcastle

Graeme Jones’ last managerial role was at Luton last year but he now steps out in charge of Newcastle… so can the ex-postman now deliver the Toon’s first win of the season as he takes caretaker charge at St James’ Park?

  •  Graeme Jones has been told he will lead Newcastle for the next two games
  •  The Magpies visit Crystal Palace on Saturday before hosting Chelsea 
  •  The new Saudi-led owners are still on the hunt for Steve Bruce’s replacement 
  • There were suggestions that Paulo Fonseca was on the verge of taking charge 


Graeme Jones last managed a team when Luton drew 0-0 at Wigan. On Saturday afternoon, he steps out in charge of the club with the world’s richest owners.

The BBC described that match at the DW Stadium in March of last year as ‘largely uneventful’. As the Geordie has learned during his nine months back on Tyneside, there is nothing humdrum about life at Newcastle.

Jones has been told he will lead the team for the next two games, at Crystal Palace on Saturday and at home to Chelsea next weekend.

Graeme Jones has been told to take charge of Newcastle United ’s next two matches

The new Saudi-led owners are banking on him buying them some time in their search for Steve Bruce’s replacement. The response at Selhurst Park will be informative as to how urgent is the need for a permanent appointment.

On that front, bookies’ favourite Paulo Fonseca has not been offered the job, despite suggestions he was close to taking over. He remains one of several names in the frame but could well be overtaken as frontunner by Roberto Martinez, Lucien Favre or Unai Emery in the coming days.

Jones, though, has a chance to impress, and he will back himself. The 51-year-old does not lack self-belief and players describe him as straddling a fine line between friendly and fiery. A recent confrontation at training with striker Dwight Gayle captured his passion and abrasive nature.

The ex-postman has stepped in while the new Saudi owners look to replace Steve Bruce (left)

The ex-postman has stepped in while the new Saudi owners look to replace Steve Bruce (left)

But beneath an occasional hot head lies a cool, tactical brain. He is a football obsessive who, when he arrived as assistant to Bruce in January, blew away some players with his knowledge of them.

The buzz about Jones in those early months was all positive and he won a place among Gareth Southgate’s backroom staff for Euro 2020, where Jordan Henderson took to him immediately.

Some have suggested his influence has waned this season, and a nine-match winless start would support all not being well between players and management. But with Bruce gone, this is a chance to do everything his way.

New owners are hoping that an immediate improvement under Jones will buy them some time

New owners are hoping that an immediate improvement under Jones will buy them some time 

Callum Wilson gave a telling interview to Alan Shearer in The Athletic over the summer, when he said: ‘Graeme Jones coming in as a coach definitely complemented the manager because he’s a little bit more tactically aware and up to date, whereas the manager has his different strengths.

‘When you see the results towards the back end of last season, we had more of a style and a philosophy. That will happen from the start of the season with a good coach around to help out the previous coaches. He’s rejuvenated the place, first and foremost.’

That good start has not happened and, in a meeting with the players following Bruce’s departure, Jones told them the slate had been wiped clean.

Paulo Fonseca is the bookies' favourite  and reports suggest he is close to taking charge

Paulo Fonseca is the bookies’ favourite  and reports suggest he is close to taking charge

But Newcastle's new owners have yet to offer the former Roma manager the position

But Newcastle’s new owners have yet to offer the former Roma manager the position 

His first press conference as caretaker on Friday was measured and decisive. For a man who was delivering post around the streets of Gateshead as he struggled to make it as a pro 30 years ago, he did not seem overawed by this elevated status. ‘I told the players, “I will assess you on your actions over the next three days. My line-up and tactics will be based on my interpretation of that”,’ he said. ‘So the players have picked themselves, or not, in some cases. We’re eight games in and that first win needs to come soon.’

Jones also revealed he has been given guarantees over his future and, given his long-time associate Martinez has admirers within the consortium, do not be surprised if they are reunited at St James’ Park in the coming weeks. Should Jones do well in the next seven days then it will perhaps sway the thinking of Amanda Staveley and Co in the direction of Martinez, currently in charge of Belgium.

This, then, is far from a free hit for Jones. He has been given a chance that was probably beyond his wildest dreams when he left Luton second from bottom in the Championship last year. The only thing that will feel the same at Selhurst Park on Saturday is his team’s position in the league table.

For as caretaker of the world’s most talked-about football club this past fortnight, the pressure is on this former postie to deliver.

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