Go back to basics, keep Callum Wilson fit and win a match! How Newcastle’s next boss can lift the fog?
CRAIG HOPE: Go back to basics, keep Callum Wilson fit, shoot Joe Willock again… and win a game! How the next Newcastle boss can lift the fog on the Tyne
- Newcastle’s Saudi owners are in the early stages of a transformation at the club
- Graeme Jones is currently in charge of the Magpies on an interim basis
- A new permanent managerial appointment will probably be made next month
Graeme Jones bought the Newcastle owners and himself some time with what was considered an ugly improvement in Selhurst Park.
The Magpies would have lost this game seven days earlier, but by taking a point, interim boss Jones proved one thing to Amanda Staveley and Co: he can be confident of “stopping the mess,” as he put it.
It was reported last night that interviews with candidates will continue this week, but an appointment is likely next month. So what priorities await the new man?
Longtime boss Steve Bruce has made a big game of deploying ‘forefoot football’ this season. It left the team brutally exposed from the back and the first thing Jones did was give up on that tactic.
That must be the way forward: reprogramming capable defenders to, well, defend.
Bruce was frustrated that those players had been virtually brainwashed by his predecessor Rafa Benitez. It is now time for them to rejoin a cult that worships on the altar of resistance.
Keep Cal Burning
“The best match day finisher I’ve ever worked with,” said Callum Wilson’s Jones after his stunning overhead kick resulted in a point to overturn Christian Benteke’s head opener. But Wilson has been plagued by muscle strains since joining last year.
Against Southampton in August, he remained unexplained despite a thigh injury, missing four games.
On Saturday the terrace tribute, ‘Hey Callum Wilson, how did you score that goal?’ could have been a sincere inquiry as he had no right to score with his back to the goal 10 yards between bodies. Six goals from his last six games underlines his importance.
Striker Callum Wilson is crucial to Newcastle’s chances of a positive season
No train, no profit
Part of the Newcastle squad has long wanted fewer days off and more structure in their schedule. That should be an easy win for any manager who comes in.
Benitez’s sessions were repetitive and painstaking and could frustrate – but only recently has there been recognition of some of the benefits of such preparation. The owners know the importance of appointing a coach who can bring improvement to players already in the books.
Show in the mood
There is a wave of euphoria that can be ridden in light of the takeover, especially during home games. Even league-leader Chelsea’s visit on Saturday should not be written off, given the likely crowds in the first game at St James’ post-Bruce.
Saying the right things may sound easy, but supporters long for a manager whose words excite and enthuse them. Don’t underestimate the power of good communication.
Joe Willock scored in seven games in a row at the end of last season to win a £22 million transfer from Arsenal. He’s barely had a sniff of goal this season and doesn’t look like much. He was dropped by Jones at Palace, but the talent is clearly in the midfielder – rediscovering that is a must for the next manager.
Joe Willock hasn’t had the same impact he had after moving from Arsenal last season
All of the above will require the new boss to knock on the boardroom door and release some Saudi riyals before January. A scout has told Sportsmail the positions Newcastle are looking at for the new year – it would have been quicker to list the positions they are not looking at!
There is room for improvement throughout the park, but the priority must be a central defender, central midfielder and cover for Wilson on the attack – in fact the backbone of the team needs to be strengthened.
Win a game!
Newcastle are nine without a win in the Premier League after a relatively decent run of games.
There is a danger, with a devilishly difficult December coming up, that they will enter the realm of relegation, which statistically becomes more likely than not. It doesn’t matter how the next man, or even Jones, achieves it, but a victory to kick-start this new Saudi Arabia-led era would be worth its weight in oil.