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Graeme Jones quizzed on Newcastle matchday squad selection for Chelsea – Gives explanation

1 month ago
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Everybody was intrigued to see what the Graeme Jones team selection would be for the Chelsea match.

The interim manager had surprised a lot of people with both his team selection and indeed tactics at Crystal Palace the previous Saturday, the end could be said to have justified the means though, as Newcastle came away with a battling, if fortunate, point.

A home game against Chelsea in front of a sold out St James Park, 50,000 fans looking forward to a first home game in over 14 years that wouldn’t have either Mike Ashley or Steve Bruce casting a dark shadow over it.

Graeme Jones also revealing on Friday that 24 of his 25 man senior Premier League squad were available to choose from, Paul Dummett the only exception.

So just who would the NUFC interim boss choose for his second, and almost certainly final, match in charge?

At 2pm on Saturday afternoon, Graeme Jones announced this Newcastle United starting eleven v Chelsea:

Darlow, Manquillo, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Fraser, Saint-Maximin, Wilson

Whilst the Subs:

Dubravka, Schar, Joelinton, Lewis, Shelvey, Murphy, Almiron, Willock, Gayle

So with Paul Dummett injured still, it meant four fit senior Newcastle players didn’t even make the bench…keepers Mark Gillespie and Freddie Woodman, plus Jeff Hendrick and Federico Fernandez

Despite the increase in options available, Graeme Jones very surprisingly choosing to go with exactly the same team that played at Palace.

There is no right or wrong of course and it is all about opinions…but fair to say plenty of Newcastle fans struggling to understand the team selection and even the bench in many cases, whilst at the same time respecting the fact that Graeme Jones has been handed such a tough short-term task in terms of trying to steady the ship in advance of the new manager been appointed.

After the 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, the interim NUFC boss was quizzed about his matchday squad and especially the absence of a certain Argentine international defender, who wasn’t even named in the entire 20 man squad.

Graeme Jones:

“Federico Fernandez wasn’t on the bench at Crystal Palace either.

“I really like Feddy as a defender but I didn’t see any value in naming him on the bench.

“If you are winning, you are not going to put him on.

“If you are losing, you are not going to put him on.

“Feddy needs to start…or not.

“So it was the same reason [for Chelsea] as I left him out of the 20 at Palace.

“It was the same reason, as the boys did well [at Crystal Palace].”

It all feels a bit mad for your typical NUFC fan that Fernandez can’t even get into the 20 man matchday squad and whilst I have no doubt that Graeme Jones is speaking honestly about his reasoning, I find it difficult to understand / accept it as the best way to have gone. Especially at Palace I would say, as Graeme Jones doesn’t factor into his explanation, what if somebody gets injured. I was sure Fernandez would play at Palace with Benteke so good in the air and yet left out altogether as Graeme Jones says. What though if at say 0-0 Lascelles had got injured? Benteke was beating the Newcastle defence time after time in the air and with Krafth, Clark and Schar, with no Lascelles or Fernandez, it would have been so much worse surely.

Anyway, it is intriguing just how different (like Steve Bruce…?) Graeme Jones saw his ideal team selection as compared to what most Newcastle fans generally would have picked.

Before each match, here at The Mag we poll fans on which players they would like to see play in the next match, not a case of thinking supporters know better than whoever the manager (or head coach, or interim manager…) happens to be, just interesting to gauge opinions of fans.

So below are listed those 24 Newcastle United players that fans (and Graeme Jones) had to choose from for the Chelsea game, with the percentages of thousands of fan votes on all 24 players below (percentages rounded up / down to nearest whole number).

Top eleven voted for by Newcastle fans:

98% Wilson

97% Saint-Maximin

92% Almiron

90% Schar

86% Manquillo

87% Dubravka

85% Willock

81% Fernandez

75% Hayden

58% Lewis

47% Ritchie

Then the other 13 below:

46% Lascelles, 37% Sean Longstaff, 28% Shelvey, 26% Murphy, 26% Clark, 13% Darlow, 11% Krafth, 10% Joelinton, 9% Gayle, 6% Fraser, 0% Woodman, 0% Hendrick, 0% Krafth, 0% Gillespie

As you can see, Almiron, Schar, Dubravka, Willock, Fernandez, Lewis all making it into the Newcastle team v Chelsea based on thousands of NUFC fan votes.

In reality, Graeme Jones instead chose Fraser, Lascelles, Darlow, Sean Longstaff, Clark and Krafth.

We now await the new manager to be appointed and find out what his preferences are, once he has had a good look at this NUFC squad.

As to my personal opinion on the side Graeme Jones put out against Chelsea…

Martin Dubravka was fully fit for the first time but only made the bench. I feel that was maybe fair enough as just back available BUT he HAS to play at Brighton in Saturday. He is a top class keeper and Darlow has been really poor since he got his chance this season.

Fernandez for me has been Newcastle’s best defender since Rafa signed him back in 2019, certainly I would play him ahead of Lascelles every time. As for Fabian Schar, I would definitely have him in ahead of Clark and Krafth.

Really difficult to understand how Almiron can be left out, even if based on only his workrate alone, never mind his willingness to get the ball when marked and carry it up the pitch. Certainly I would have him ahead of Fraser.

With Willock, he has had injury issues this season and I can understand maybe as well why for tactical reasons the former Arsenal player was only a sub yesterday, but I think the new permanent manager has to find a way of playing him in the team and getting him into shooting positions, considering just how few goalscorers Newcastle otherwise have.

As for Jamal Lewis, just how bad must he be in training, to not get a game? Steve Bruce got Newcastle to pay £15m for the left-back and yet he didn’t play him a single time in PL since February and now Graeme Jones has totally ignored him as well. Ritchie is struggling so badly at left back and left wing back, surely Lewis must get his chance sometime?

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