Chris Hughton has been talking about his former club and believes Rafa Benitez’ team will ‘find it hard’.

The former Newcastle boss bases this on the simple fact that the Championship ‘is hard’ regardless of which club ends up in the second tier.

Newcastle are the hot favourites and Chris Hughton thinks they will have a ‘good season’, especially with a ‘very good manager’ like Rafa Benitez, but the fate of previous favourites does very much back up Hughton’s view about the Championship being maybe the toughest of all leagues to get out of.

You have to go back as far as 2001/02 to find the last favourites who won the Championship, a certain Kevin Keegan doing it with Manchester City.

The last two seasons have seen Bournemouth (25/1) and Burnley (14/1) top the table at the end of the season.

Since 2002, only four favourites have managed to finish in the top three, with the last of those being West Ham in 2011/12, though last season Middlesbrough started as slight second favourites to Derby and were promoted.

When Newcastle carried all before them the last time, they were 8/1 to be Champions when the Championship kicked off.

Chris Hughton thinks Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are excellent signings and reckons the time to really judge the respective strength of the clubs, will be when the transfer window closes.

Chris Hughton speaking to The Argus:

“I think Newcastle will find it hard because the league is hard.

“Ritchie and Gayle are two Premier League players but they know the Championship as well.

“The impression I get straight away from their purchases is they are buying to get promotion from the Championship.

“They have bought two very good players and because of the financial clout they have, I expect them to buy well for the Championship and however hard they find it one thing is guaranteed, it will be a tough place to go. I expect them to have a good season.

“He’s a travelled manager and a very good manager. Even though he hasn’t experienced it, he’ll know what the Championship is like.

“He’s very good at what he does. Rafa Benitez sets his teams up very well and I think that will be a plus in this division. He is just going to have to do that more often than he is used to, with the volume of games.

“I think he’ll cope because he is an adaptable manager. They are entitled to be favourites and I’d be very surprised if the two players they have just signed are the only players they bring in. I think they’ll have a real go at getting out of this division.

“The favourites will be determined by the end of the (summer transfer) window and what work they’ve done. If Villa bring in several players to do the same they will be on the same level. Both of them will be very difficult places to go.

“It lifts the profile of the Championship when you have got Newcastle and Villa in particular, no disrespect to Norwich.”

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