Speaking exclusively with Football FanCast, former England international Steve Howey has stated that speculation claiming that Graeme Jones has effectively taken over from Steve Bruce at Newcastle United is nonsense.
Jones joined Bruce’s coaching staff from AFC Bournemouth last month, at a point where the Magpies had lost their last five Premier League games during an 11-match winless run.
The Toon instantly won their next top-flight fixture 2-0 away to Everton, while Jones was in the stands against Crystal Palace before making his way down into the dugout as the Eagles began to establish control.
Bruce faced questions from the media after the match suggesting Jones was a threat to his position as Newcastle’s head coach, though shrugged off the questions and hit back at the “conspiracy theories” surrounding the arrival of the former Luton Town manager.
“No, I have had this thrown at me,” Bruce said, via quotes by Chronicle Live. “It has been talked about weeks ago, about bringing in someone extra. He was mine, my, first choice.
“All these conspiracy theories, I wish I could put them to bed. Against Crystal Palace, Graeme wanted to have a look at first 10-15 minutes, up a height, in the stands, then he came down and was in the dugout like he was against Everton. I was surprised [at the fuss].”
Howey, who played 149 times for Newcastle between 1989 and 1999, believes Jones has done a great job at helping turn United’s fortunes around, but firmly believes that Bruce is still the one in control.
“I’m really pleased for him. People look at what have you done before you come in here. And the situation was, apart from being with [Roberto] Martinez and Belgium, the other stuff that Graeme had done hadn’t been massively successful – Luton and stuff like that,” he told FFC.
“I think there was a list, and it was ‘being relegated’, ‘was relegated’, ‘was relegated’ but I’ve always heard that he was a very good coach, a very good organiser. So, he could be the best coach in the world.
“Ultimately, if your players are not with you, or of a standard when you’re at the standard, then you’re always going to struggle. He’s come in, he’s put on some training sessions, the boys must have just clicked with it straight away, which can happen. And obviously, results have certainly improved.
“The speculation and people sort of saying he’s taken over from Steve Bruce. I’ve got no doubt in my mind that Steve Bruce is the manager. And that’s it, and Graeme’s helping out. And at the moment, it seems to be going quite well.”
Newcastle reportedly made calls to a handful of candidates to strengthen Bruce’s backroom team before the appointment of Jones, having first looked into a coaching hire after Steve Agnew tested positive for coronavirus and Stephen Clemence’s father, Ray, died.
Jones had worked with Bournemouth as the club’s Technical Coach since last August after taking a step back after 41 games in charge of Luton, while previously working as an assistant coach at Swansea, Wigan and Everton before the Belgian national side.
Newcastle have beaten Everton and Southampton since hiring Jones, while looking a much-improved side in defeat to Crystal Palace compared to the performances seen in the preceding weeks.
AND in other news: Exclusive – Pundit drops verdict on Joseph DaGrosa takeover claim…