Newcastle fans have repeatedly said this season that an ideal scenario would be Chris Hughton taking Brighton up alongside NUFC this season.
Well Monday could well see one half of that equation become reality, though sadly it is the south coast club where the Premier League is so imminent.
If Brighton beat Wigan at home then they are promoted, or if Huddersfield lose at Derby then Chris Hughton will also have succeeded, or if both games are draws that also works.
Chris Hughton has done an incredible job and credit to him and his club for holding on to star players such as Lewis Dunk and Championship player of the season Anthony Knockaert, Newcastle having made offers last summer.
The Brighton Manager rates this success as greater than the one he oversaw on Tyneside, saying he ‘had a very strong team at Newcastle’ and ‘expectations were less’ at Brighton before this season kicked off.
It is questionable as to what is the greater achievement.
Brighton showed last season they were good enough to go up and just missed out on goal difference when drawing their last two matches. Having fought to keep their best players then there was no reason why they couldn’t do it this time, though it did depend on managing that disappointment from a year ago.
Back in 2009 at Newcastle, Chris Hughton may arguably have had more talented players but he inherited a total mess and the players as a group were far from united.
Mike Ashley also sold anybody who there was a decent bid for and didn’t give Hughton a penny to spend that summer.
Relying on loans and free transfers/free agents, things could have gone the other way. The disgraceful attitude shown by many players during the fall into the Championship could have carried on into the second tier campaign and it was surely down to Chris Hughton that this didn’t happen.
I think he is one of the most underrated managers in the top two divisions and there is an argument to say that he is certainly the best English Manager we now have, alongside Eddie Howe maybe.
Now Brighton are completing the job, Newcastle’s players have to pick themselves up after somehow failing to beat Leeds despite an excellent performance.
If Chris Hughton lifts the Championship trophy not many Newcastle fans would care, just so long as NUFC are in that top two.
Chris Hughton speaking to The Telegraph:
“It has been similar to the season we had at Newcastle, in that we have been in the top two more or less all season.
“I had a very strong team at Newcastle and, in the end, we won comfortably enough, but expectations were high.
“The expectations were less here going into the season so, as an achievement for this club, it is probably bigger.
“Until we have achieved our targets we will be focused only on what we have to do and it is my job to make sure no one is thinking beyond the next game.
“Right now, we are only thinking about finding a way to beat Wigan and then we have a very tough game at Norwich to come next Friday and we want to win as many points as possible.”