With now only hours to go before the Championship clash of the top two, Chris Hughton has been reflecting about life on Tyneside.
The now Brighton boss says he will never forget his time at Newcastle United and little wonder.
Experiencing the likes of Mike Ashley, Derek Llambias, JFK and Dennis Wise would be something that nobody could ever live through and not have sleepless nights afterwards.
However, despite all of that he says ‘I look back fondly…it was a very good period for me and one I shall not forget’.
Tellingly perhaps, Chris Hughton points to the ‘ups AND downs’ at Newcastle making him ‘a better manager for it’ in the future.
It was a crash course introduction into management once installed as caretaker manager in summer 2010 (he had temporarily taken charge after JFK took ill until Alan Shearer was installed with just over a month remaining) after Mike Ashley blanked Alan Shearer despite asking the NUFC legend to prepare a plan for getting back to the Premier League and going forward after that.
Ashley never even had the courtesy of replying to Shearer’s costed out plan and instead installed Chris Hughton with seemingly little expectation of promotion, not renewing any number of Newcastle players’ contracts, selling anybody who there was a decent offer for, and not giving Hughton a penny to spend in summer 2009.
Despite this, Chris Hughton brilliantly took Newcastle up as Champions with 102 points, then stabilised them in mid-table, only to then be shockingly sacked a month after beating Sunderland 5-1 and beating Arsenal 1-0 at the Emirates.
No wonder Hughton says that life at Newcastle prepared him for whatever was going to come next!
Chris Hughton talking to the West Sussex gazette:
“I look back very fondly.
“I was there for just under three years, not all of that time as manager of the football club, but I enjoyed living in the area.
“It was a very good period for me and one I shall not forget.
“In any player’s career or manager’s career, you look back on big moments and of course that (going up as champions with Newcastle) was a very big moment, certainly for myself.
“It was my first managerial role and something that was very special for me but more importantly it was very special for the football club.
“If I look at my managerial career, it’s the role that gave me an opportunity and I feel I have developed as a manager over that period of time.
“Going through what we went through in that season, and the season afterwards, gives you a grasp of what management is about, the ups and downs (at Newcastle)…and I’d like to think I’m a better manager for it.
“The major significance of this (Newcastle) game is that it is the next one.
“There’s no doubt it’s a big game because of where we are in the division and the two teams.
“It’s a very significant fixture but there are a lot of fixtures to play afterwards and I will expect the majority of them to be very difficult games as well.”