Chris Hughton is one of the good guys, the former Newcastle boss was back on Tyneside on Friday night to help make Wallsend Boys Club’s annual dinner a special night.
Newcastle’s last decent manager before Rafa Benitez came along, Hughton was treated disgracefully by Mike Ashley.
Appointed initially as caretaker after relegation in 2009, Chris Hughton saw the owner sell a procession of players that summer, but wasn’t given a penny to spend in that transfer window to build a promotion push.
Nevertheless he led NUFC up as champions with 102 points, 23 clear of third place.
Hughton also surprised Mike Ashley by proving no pushover off the pitch, the owner then making it his business to get rid as soon as possible. Sacking the former Spurs player when Newcastle were safe in mid-table and only weeks after beating Sunderland 5-1 and defeating Arsenal 1-0 at The Emirates – Ashley then bringing in a procession of desperate yes men who agreed to take the job with no influence on any important matters, especially transfers in and out.
Despite this, Chris Hughton has only good things to say about the club, just like Rafa Benitez he forged that special triangular relationship between manager, players and fans, bringing success despite the actions of Mike Ashley.
He says Newcastle fans ‘deserve success’ and the club is ‘in safe hands under Rafa’.
Despite being backed to the tune of a £48m net spend in the summer, compared to the measly £11.5m Ashley allowed Rafa Benitez, Chris Hughton insists that ‘Brighton are a much smaller club and the expectation levels’ are much lower than on Tyneside.
Chris Hughton also claims United have more ‘significant back up’ and a ‘deeper squad’ than Brighton.
However, clubs such as Bournemouth, Stoke, Swansea and others have shown in recent seasons that how ‘big’ a club is perceived to be can be turned on its head these days, with these clubs making signings up to and around the £20m mark, whilst Newcastle still haven’t broken their now 12 year old £16m transfer record.
The last away match showed Newcastle fans just how tight this division is likely to be, as Brighton joined Huddersfield in beating fellow promoted side, NUFC.
Whilst Chris Hughton has built a very good team at Brighton who are looking to have a great chance of staying in the Premier League, nobody wants to take on the likes of Pardew, Carver and McClaren as their manager. This speaks volumes for the four managers who preceded Rafa Benitez, Hughton a great bloke with integrity and a good manager.
Chris Hughton talking to the Chronicle:
“I am a better manager because of my time at Newcastle, Kevin Keegan appointed me first team coach in February of 2008 and I grew to love the place.
“We had a terrific run to the Championship title and Geordies never let me forget beating Sunderland 5-1 whenever I meet them.
“Newcastle United are a big club with wonderful fans, who turn up to the tune of fifty thousand every home game.
“They deserve success and are in safe hands under Rafa – they will be OK.
“Brighton are a much smaller club and the expectation levels among our supporters is much lower.
“It is the first time Brighton have been in the Premier League and the longest they have ever spent in top class football is around four years.
“United have a lot of good players: a sound defence, Jonjo Shelvey – who inevitably looks to play the ball forward at earliest opportunity, and Matt Ritchie who’s a great provider.
“Newcastle also have significant back up, a deeper squad than us.”