Chris Hughton meets Rafa Benitez once again on Sunday and is full of praise for the Newcastle manager.
Last season saw the Brighton boss lose out in both games to Rafa and of course on that memorable final day, as Newcastle United claimed the Championship title.
Despite Brighton’s net spend of £48m in the summer compared to Newcastle’s £11.5m, fair to say that all eyes were on how NUFC performed, with certain expectations over and above the other promoted clubs, and no allowances would/will be made by the media if United fail.
Chris Hughton says his opposite number has managed those expectations ‘very well’.
The Brighton boss believes that any situation Rafa comes up against, he will have the benefit of having faced it before in his managerial career.
As for Newcastle’s three wins on the bounce and decent performances, Chris Hughton believes it is a lot to do with the players Rafa Benitez bought in over a year ago and who played in the Championship – no doubt the likes of Ciaran Clark, Isaac Hayden, DeAndre Yedlin and especially Matt Ritchie on Hughton’s mind.
“I think Rafa Benitez has managed them (the expectations) very well.
“A reflection of that is always the points you have got.
“Any team getting promotion to the Premier League and then starting the season with nine points out of a possible fifteen, is a very good achievement.
“So certainly Newcastle have had a good start and continuity from last season.
“They have a lot of players at this particular moment playing well, who have been with them for a while now.
“He is a very good manager, very experienced, and he will have gone through any situation that he’s faced.
“Recruitment is not just about one window.
“Newcastle recruited very well last season and some of those players that are performing particularly well this season, are players that played the whole of last season.
“We recognised at the start of the season it would be a tougher season.
“The players’ mindsets have been very good and so has the training and what we need to do is put as much of that into practice on the main arena and the next opportunity is against Newcastle.
“They’ve got lots of qualities and different ways of winning games. So not surprised, it’s a tough division and you have to find different ways of winning.”