Graeme Jones has insisted he is merely putting the foundations in place for the next permanent Newcastle United manager – and gave fans a warning about expectations for the January transfer window.
Jones was tasked with leading Newcastle as interim manager for two matches following the dismissal of Steve Bruce. The first of those was a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace last Saturday. The next will be a home match against Chelsea tomorrow.
There have been reports that Jones could be guiding the team for a little longer while a permanent replacement for Bruce is found.
Lucien Favre is the favourite to take charge at St James’ Park, over the likes of Paulo Fonseca. But any deal may have to wait until the upcoming international break.
Jones will be keeping a role on the coaching staff under whoever takes charge. However, he does not think he will become the permanent manager himself.
But he was giving little away about the plans of his superiors as they prepare for the Chelsea game, and then one against Brighton a week later.
“I’ll have a chat with the owners and see where we are. No more than that and take it from there,” said Jones.
“I think our job here, right now, is to make this football club as united as it possibly can be for the next manager that’s coming.
“We’re a point better off than last week and obviously after tomorrow’s game we’ll see where we are, but the new guy needs to walk into a really healthy football club with 52,000 people plus 20 players and staff pulling in the same direction and that’s my target.”
Even though his current role is a temporary one, Jones is feeling the responsibility ahead of his first home match in charge.
“There’s a lot of responsibility,” he said. “Honestly, you can’t go there with the emotions. Yes it’s my football club, first game at St James’ Park, but I’ve got a job to do and I’ve got to do it to the best of my ability.
“So I haven’t thought about that. I’m thinking purely about the game and nothing more.
“What happens between now and January 1 is going to define our season and it would be remiss of me if I didn’t concentrate on the Chelsea game.
“We’ve got the Champions League winners coming here, so I’ve not thought about anything else.”
He then reiterated that his chances of becoming manager full-time would likely not change even with a win over Chelsea.
“If we beat Chelsea I’ll probably open a bottle of red wine with my wife and celebrate,” he answered.
“It would be a huge moment, but I’m sorry to be boring, I’m not looking past that. My remit is just for Chelsea and I want to help my football club be in the best position we can be in.”
Jones sends January transfer message
Finding a new manager will be the first step of Newcastle’s rebuilding process under their wealthy new owners.
The attention will later turn to signings they could make in the January transfer window. Given how much money they now have behind them, there has been much excitement about whom they could target.
Jones thinks expectations should be lessened, though, given that Newcastle already have a core group better than their position would suggest.
“I think we’ve got a good core here,” he claimed. “For different reasons we started poorly, that’s the truth. There’s nobody more important than the core group of players at this football club.
“I can assure you they care about this club. A lot of lads have been here a long time.
“I see January as an opportunity to help the group that is here. You can’t make wholesale changes. The most important thing is to get the best out of the core players here now and then January will be a bonus.”