Chris Hughton compares his Newcastle team to now and points out Rafa’s problems
Chris Hughton did a brilliant job at Newcastle United and he isn’t doing too bad at Brighton.
Staying strong and keeping his best players in the summer, after missing out on goal difference for automatic promotion in May, Brighton are showing they have every chance of completing the job this time.
With Newcastle losing and Brighton coming back to beat Fulham, it puts the Chris Hughton outfit just two points behind his old club, whilst they are four points ahead of third placed Reading.
Back in summer 2009, Chris Hughton was given the job more or less as an after thought, even then it was only as caretaker and with not a penny to spend, as Mike Ashley sold any player he had an offer for.
However, Hughton says that despite that, his Newcastle United side of seven years ago was still the best team in the division alongside West Brom’s, who would eventually finish distant runners-up to the Magpies.
He thinks his biggest task then was just managing a team of players who had been relegated and had been in disarray, the team responding to Hughton’s management style and helped by relatively few injuries.
In contrast, the Brighton boss sees Rafa Benitez’ biggest problem being having such a massive squad, with the hazards of keeping so many players happy and getting the best out of them.
Chris Hughton thinks there is no doubt Newcastle have the strongest squad with ‘two absolute quality players for each position’, though he adds that only the rest of the season will tell us if Rafa also has the strongest team.
Neil Warnock recently claimed that whilst Newcastle had the strongest squad, Rafa didn’t have the best starting 11 in the Championship.
As for Hughton, he still thinks if Brighton can remain close to Newcastle up to the end of the season then they will be promoted.
Chris Hughton speaking to The Argus:
“The difference is I had a very settled team (in 2009/10 at Newcastle).
“When I started that season we probably had, with West Brom, the best team.
“It was just trying to manage that team.
“We were very consistent in the team that we played, didn’t have too many injuries, but we didn’t have the depth Rafa has got now.
“That comes with its own problems. Rafa has got to manage a bigger squad and manage them well.
“It’s certainly unexpected for Newcastle to lose, although I’m not sure why I say that because this is the Championship and any of us who are on good runs can lose a game.
“I still feel the team that is closest to Newcastle will have a great chance of being right up there for promotion.
“They have certainly got the strongest Championship squad I’ve seen. They recruited very well and balanced it very well with huge money for two players that went out – and of course, in Rafa Benitez they have an absolute top manager.
“They have got two absolute quality players for each position. Only time will tell how strong a team they are.”
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