Mike Ashley can strive to quell the emerging turmoil at Newcastle United by appointing assistant coach Graeme Jones as Steve Bruce’s immediate replacement.
According to the Daily Mail, several members of the Magpies first-team want Jones to replace Bruce at the helm, believing that the former Luton Town manager gives them their best chance of avoiding relegation.
United currently sit three points clear of the drop zone but will enter the weekend inside the bottom three, should 18th-placed Fulham pull off an upset and beat London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday night.
Things behind the scenes are rapidly starting to fall apart, as well, with Bruce involved in a training ground bust-up with Matt Ritchie on Tuesday after the 60-year-old allegedly shoulder-barged the ex-Scotland international after Ritchie allegedly called his head coach a “coward”.
Bruce is also claimed to have told the winger “after all I’ve done for you,” to which Ritchie responded with a few choice words.
The incident was sparked following Bruce’s comments to the media on Saturday, in which he blamed Ritchie for not passing on instructions of a change in formation before Wolves scored their equalising goal.
Ritchie was furious with being thrown under the bus, alongside Joelinton, Martin Dubravka and Jamal Lewis, and wished to thrash out his displeasure after the game but Bruce would not speak to the 31-year-old until training on Tuesday – which created further frustration.
Several players reportedly no longer trust Bruce and want Jones appointed as head coach until the end of the season, due to a growing feeling of resentment towards Bruce after teammates sided with Ritchie.
Clearly, the situation at Darsley Park is as bleak as it likely has ever been under Bruce, with players also said to have been “disgusted” at how news of Dubravka ousting Karl Darlow appeared in the media 72 hours before Bruce informed the goalkeeper of his benching.
With players also growing frustrated at Bruce for passing the blame onto them rather than taking responsibility for results, it surely has to be time for Ashley to step in and relieve the boyhood Newcastle fan of his responsibilities.
It has been claimed that Ashley will remain hands-off as long as United stay out of the drop zone, but that can no longer be the case, and Jones – who former Toon defender Steve Howey exclusively told FFC is a “very good organiser” – should be promoted from the assistant role he took up in January.
As well as allegedly having the backing of some of the dressing room already, Jones has frequently been acknowledged for his man-management skills and ability to get players on side in difficult circumstances.
“With him, it’s very easy… if he does not like you, he tells you straight to your face and this is very important,” Kevin Mirallas, who worked with Jones at Everton and Belgium told Chronicle Live. “Some assistants do this job well; some do not. I know this guy very well and he’s a very good person.”
Former Toffees midfielder Leon Osman also claimed: “Bonner would tell you what he wanted you to do but if the standard wasn’t up to what he expected, he would let you know in no uncertain terms.
“He expects that when you do anything on the field, you do it to the best of your ability – no passengers, no easy rides. On the flip side of that, I found he knew how to relate to people, and he knew how to relate to individuals.”
A character like Jones may be just who Newcastle need at the helm at a time of apparent crisis, it just remains to be seen if Ashley is willing to pay Bruce the seven-figure sum needed for his sacking.
AND in other news, an “absolutely awesome” titan has been tipped to quit Newcastle this summer…