The Daily Mail’s Craig Hope has suggested the moment that Newcastle United coach Graeme Jones ordered the side to switch to a back four has been caught on camera.
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Prior to Friday’s draw with Leeds United, the Mail claimed that although Jones was a popular figure at the club (apparent bust-up with Dwight Gayle aside), there was some frustration as to why he had not intervened and made changes to the 3-5-2 system deployed by Steve Bruce.
However, footage captured by Sky Sports of Matt Ritchie talking to the 51-year-old – all while Bruce watches on – does appear to show Jones instructing the player to inform his teammates of a switch to a back four.
On Twitter, Hope had this to say.
From Friday’s paper… “Jones was a popular & much-needed addition last season, but some are now wondering why he has not intervened & changed a 3-5-2 system that they feel has too many players out of position”. This, it would seem, is the moment he did. NUFC better for it, too. https://t.co/9JsaYrJh11
— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) September 19, 2021
Why is this significant?
While Bruce has suggested that the idea of Jones taking over from him is nothing more than a ‘conspiracy’ theory, Chris Waugh of The Athletic has revealed that there are people within the club who feel he is the 60-year-old’s successor in waiting.
The improvement in Friday’s game after the tactical tweak was also noted by Waugh.
Should Newcastle deploy a back-four against Watford?
Clearly, given the lack of investment in the squad over the course of the summer transfer window, internal solutions must be found.
A back-three might, in theory, give Newcastle more solidity but – frankly – that just hasn’t worked this season. Bruce was understood to want to bring in a defender with more pace but a deal for Cameron Carter-Vickers was not sanctioned and his team have so far conceded 13 times. Only rock bottom Norwich City have a worse record this season.
Considering the relative improvement on Friday, it may well be a good idea as Bruce prepares to head into what already looks like a relegation six-pointer.