Graeme Jones explains why he dropped Joe Willock and Joelinton at Selhurst Park
The 2,800 Newcastle United fans in the away end celebrated a massive point at Selhurst Park, however, little doubt that the Newcastle fan in the dugout was the proudest and most relieved of all.
Graeme Jones declaring about the travelling away supporters: ‘I am one of them. It has just been a football education in between me leaving [Tyneside] and coming back. If we made them proud, made them happy, then that means a lot.’
The Newcastle United fanbase were very understanding that this was a must not lose game, a starting point desperately needed in a season that under Steve Bruce was looking progressively worse as United were careering headlong towards disaster.
Nobody pretends it will be fixed overnight and after the match Graeme Jones revealed how pleased he was with what had been done on the training pitch since Steve Bruce was sacked in midweek: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day, you can’t do everything, in three days we have achieved a lot.’
Fair to say that not a single Newcastle United fan (apart from Graeme Jones!) would have predicted the team selected against Crystal Palace. Changes were certainly anticipated but when the two changes were announced, plenty of head scratching at the inclusion of Emil Krafth and Ryan Fraser.
As for the two who made way, Graeme Jones after the match explained why they were left out.
The interim manager stating: ‘Joelinton has been excellent the last few weeks…but today I wanted to play a front two and I think his best position is left wing, which is why he didn’t start.’
Graeme Jones also said that whilst he thought the Brazilian has been playing well in general, Joelinton ‘needs to add goals’, the statistics looking ever worse as after his sub appearance yesterday, it is now six goals in 78 Premier League appearances.
The leaving out of Joe Willock was a big surprise but Graeme Jones giving the background to that decision: ‘Joe Willock never had a pre-season. He’s been having an injection in his toe since before Watford. He missed a couple of weeks of training and [has been] taking an injection to play. He’s going to be a fantastic player for this club but he’s building his fitness up.’
Willock was never going to keep going at the same rate of when he scored eight goals from only seventeen chances in his loan spell last season, but his form and lack of goal threat has been yet another negative for Newcastle United this season, so at least now we know why the former Arsenal midfielder has been struggling to recapture that form.
Graeme Jones talking to NUFC TV after drawing 1-1 against Crystal Palace:
“It [getting a point] wasn’t the intention, the intention was to win.
“I thought we had a good platform to work from today, the defensive display, we were really strong as a unit, a good mentality.
“We have got five days leading to the Chelsea game next week, to try and improve.
“We have got the Champions League winners coming to St James Park, so we have to be ready.
“The boys have come off the back of a few bad results and confidence has been affected, I hope today gave them belief, a bit of confidence back in the platform in order to build from going forward.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, you can’t do everything, in three days we have achieved a lot [in training after Bruce’s sacking ahead of Palace].”
“For me, he [Callum Wilson] is the best matchday finisher I have worked with, in training and he’s an outstanding professional, but when he is playing in front of a crowd something stimulates him and his mentality is exceptional, he has got that Newcastle United mentality when it really matters, his goal today was pure talent, outstanding.
“It’s a base for us to start. I want us to be better on the ball but that doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve concentrated on trying to shore up and not concede as many goals and I think that worked today.”
“I am one of them.
“It has just been a football education in between me leaving [Tyneside] and coming back.
“If we made them proud, made them happy, then that means a lot.”
Graeme Jones also updated the media on Joe Willock:
“Joe Willock never had a pre-season.
“He’s been having an injection in his toe since before Watford.
“He missed a couple of weeks of training and [has been] taking an injection to play.
“He’s going to be a fantastic player for this club but he’s building his fitness up.”
As well as Joelinton:
“Joelinton has been excellent the last few weeks.
“Now he’s giving a level of performance, I’ve said he needs to add goals.
“He’s got a good base, but today I wanted to play a front two and I think his best position is left wing, which is why he didn’t start.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1 – Saturday 23 October 3pm
(In brackets the first half stats)
Possession was Palace 75% (79%) Newcastle 25% (21%)
Total shots were Palace 14 (4) Newcastle 6 (3)
Shots on target were Palace 3 (1) Newcastle 2 (1)
Corners were Palace 3 (1) Newcastle 7 (2)
Referee: Darren England
Crowd: 24,609 (NUFC 2,800)
Darlow, Manquillo, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Sean Longstaff (Willock 66), Fraser (Almiron 66), Saint-Maximin (Joelinton 81), Wilson
Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Murphy, Gayle
(Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s draw – Read HERE)
(Match Report – Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1 – Brilliant Wilson overhead kick (and VAR!) saves the day – Read HERE)
(Christian Benteke reacts to VAR denying Crystal Palace late winner as Newcastle cling to point – Read HERE)
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