Jones: A Great Challenge
New assistant boss ready to work with 'fantastic' Blues squad.
Graeme Jones says that the opportunity to work with players of quality and character is the most exciting part of his new challenge at Everton.
The 43-year-old was installed as Roberto Martinez’s assistant on Thursday, with fellow backroom staff members Inaki Bergara, Kevin Reeves and Richard Evans also making the switch from Wigan Athletic.
Jones has been introducing himself to Everton’s players as they report back to Finch Farm after their six-week summer respite.
He admits, however, that he was already well versed in the strength of the Blues squad.
“It’s a fantastic group of players. That’s there for everybody to see,” Jones told evertontv.
“More than talent, you have to look behind that and you can see the character of the players.
“I won’t forget the game at Wigan in October when they were 2-1 down with half an hour to go. The impression from being on the opposite management team was that this group of players aren’t going to stop until they get something out of the game. It was such a positive statement.
“Then you come into the club and you hear about the quality of the people not just the quality of the players. That’s what’s exciting because it is a great platform to start work on.”
After cutting his teeth as a coach at Scottish outfit Hamilton Academical, Jones has worked alongside Martinez for six seasons, firstly at Swansea City and most recently at Wigan.
He also made just short of 100 appearances for the Latics during the late 1990s, his 44 league goals at an average of nearly one every two games earning cult status with the Wigan faithful.
Despite the long-standing affiliation with last season’s FA Cup winners, the chance to join Everton was an opening he just could not refuse.
“It wasn’t a difficult decision to join Everton but it was a difficult decision to leave Wigan because I had four years there as a player and four years there as assistant manager,” Jones continued.
“You have a certain attachment to any club – if I have eight years at Everton it would certainly be difficult to leave. You meet good people, but we felt like the time was right, the opportunity is right and we took it. We are ready to go.
“It is the next step for us and it’s a huge club with huge tradition. You notice the great standards straightaway when dealing with the people in and around the club. The club motto certainly rings true.”
Jones, Martinez and the coaching staff have six weeks to imprint their ideas on Everton’s players before the Premier League’s big kick-off on August 17.
The assistant boss insists that the focus is evolution not revolution as the new coaching staff attempt to build on last season’s sixth place finish.
“I think the key here at Everton is to get the balance between what’s gone on before and what we can bring to the table,” Jones added.
“What Everton have achieved is sixth place in the Premier League, which is fantastic, and we need to match that and do better over a period of time. It’s a great challenge.”