Newcastle United will be led out at Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace by new interim manager Graeme Jones after Steve Bruce left the club by mutual content on Tuesday after his 1000th game in football management ended in a 3-2 defeat by Spurs last week.
Allan Saint-Maximin, a player who saved his manager's bacon on many occasions led tributes to the departing Head Coach taking to Twitter with this emotional message:
a rare moment of class amid fierce debate on social media between fans & journalists.
Newcastle's new owners including Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who met Her Majesty the Queen and Princes Charles and William at Windsor Castle this week...
...decided in a meeting on Monday night in London that a new manager and fresh approach was needed to guide Newcastle out of relegation trouble as the new consortium seek to put their stamp on the club & usher in a new era of success.
As it stands, Portuguese Paulo Fonseca, who once dressed up as Zorro following his Shaktar Donetsk's side's victory over Man City in The Champions League, is the favourite yet it is understood Newcastle are intending to hold talks with several different candidates in the coming days and, much to the bookies' delight, there is a new favourite every day...
As I outlined in yesterday's blog, I would go for Spaniard Roberto Martinez, who has crucial Premier League experience of keeping Wigan Athletic in the top flight alongside current interim Head Coach Graeme Jones and the pair could combine to not just keep Newcastle up this season but kick the club onto new levels next season & beyond.
Yet Martinez's right-hand man at Wigan, Everton and at the Russia World Cup with Belgium's Red Devils, Graeme Jones is the man in the hot seat on Saturday and his immediate task is to win Newcastle's first game of the season and start moving the club up the table from the 19th spot they currently occupy having drawn three and lost five games already from their opening eight games.
Last season, Newcastle were beaten 2-1 at home by Crystal Palace despite an early strike from JonJo Shelvey but won the away game at Selhurst Park 2-0 thanks to goals apiece from Joelinton and Callum Wilson playing as a pair up front in a 4-4-2 formation and they set up each other's late goals to boot:
Facing the press representing Newcastle as Manager on Friday morning for the first time, the man known as "Bonner" had this to say...
"First thoughts are sadness, I had an excellent working relationship with the gaffer (Steve Bruce) but we know football, we all come into this game knowing the rules..
Since then its very professional..trying to help the team as best as I can to try and get a result at Crystal Palace
I've been to a Euros Final (with England) a World Cup bronze medal (with Belgium and won an FA Cup (with Wigan) but nothing is bigger than managing Newcastle United.
I first went to the match with my father at 4 year-old to see Supermac play and I was supporter through the Kevin Keegan playing and managing today and I've been blessed to work here but I'm here to be competitive and get a first win of the season"
before giving a rallying cry to the travelling Toon Army, saying:
"Its not 2800 Geordies going away to the match tomorrow, its 2801 as I'm one of them."
Jones also revealed that the Newcastle Manager - whoever it may be in 3 games time - he has been assured of taking charge of Crystal Palace & Chelsea but not beyond at this moment in time - will be able to select from a full-squad of players with which to climb the Premier League table, fresh injuries permitting:
In contrast to the turbulent takeover and managerial machinations off the pitch at Newcastle, Crystal Palace have enjoyed a stable start to the season under new manager Patrick Vieira, who has The Eagles in 14th position with 8 points as the current draw specialists of The Premier League with five draws, two defeats and one win.
That sole victory came against a 10-man Spurs team after Japhet Tanganga was sucked into Wilfried Zaha's wind-up mind games and, after being booked for confronting the Palace winger off the ball, was dismissed for a wild tackle, but against 11 men, Palace are yet to triumph and let Arsenal equalise in the last minute of the game at The Emirates on Monday night against Vieira's former club to his visible disappointment:
The signing of Odsonne Edouard from Celtic has really given Palace a lift this season - and goals. As well as this excellent strike against Arsenal on Monday night, he notched a double on his Premier League debut against Spurs as a sub to seal the win against their London rivals and the Frenchman is currently averaging a goal every 90 minutes:
So Newcastle will have to be at their best defensively and tighten up at the back to attempt to keep a first Premier League clean sheet of the season having only shut out Burnley in the League Cup in the opening nine games of the campaign although having scored 10 goals, The Magpies have outscored nine of their top flight counterparts including Spurs and Arsenal so will be looking to build on those free-scoring ways.
Wilfried Zaha is back for Crystal Palace after missing Monday's game at Arsenal with illness and has proven a thorn in Newcastle's side in the past scoring goals and winning penalties against The Magpies
Vieira, like his opposite number Jones, knows the most important thing tomorrow is a victory and both sides are in need of what could prove a huge 3 points to each manager with Vieira looking to turn frustrating draws into wins and Graeme Jones looking to restore Geordie pride with a much-needed first victory of the season.
Prediction - Newcastle 3 Crystal Palace 1