You have to hand it to Newcastle, they always manage to keep us talking. Jermaine Jenas once described life in Tyneside as like living in a gold-fish bowl and it’s not hard to see why. Once again the focus of everybody’s attention is now on the Toon as the clubs owner, Mike Ashley, has yet again tried his best to confirm himself as the most hated chairman in the business by sacking manager Chris Hughton.
The fallout, as expected, has been volatile. Everybody connected with football sympathises with a man who brought Newcastle United back into the Premier League after the nightmare scenario of relegation became a reality the previous, disastrous season. The club found themselves in turmoil on and off the pitch and many did not fancy the Magpies to make such a swift return to the top tier of English football. Hughton not only masterminded a stunning Championship campaign, he went one further. As it stands his former side sit 12th in the table. Results have been erratic, but the stabilising process is firmly in place. All things considered, surely Hughton deserved more than this?
Some may argue that Newcastle sense they have steadied themselves as a Premier League club once again and that they are now planning for the next stage, a stage in which Hughton isn’t ready to manage. But surely the man deserves the chance to turn Newcastle into a team capable of challenging for a Europa League spot, seeing as he was the one that has made everyone forget about the embarrassment of relegation?
The Toon army must be wondering what to expect next. The circus surrounding St James Park since Ashley took over have seen greats like Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer come and go in equally acrimonious circumstances, where as Dennis Wise’s short stint at the club wasn’t exactly warmly received by fans.
Newcastle finally found themselves a manager capable of controlling his team and laying the foundations to make sure they stay a top flight side, and the sensible option to Ashley was to sack him and bring about more change. But you have to ask who is going to fancy taking this job on now? There is obviously a limit to the amount of control the manager has under Ashley’s regime and the chances are Alan Pardew could quite as easily be shown the door if he does not turn Newcastle into a top four side overnight.
Another concern for the Geordie faithful is the amount of people connected with the club who have come out at admitted that it was only a matter of time. Colin Calderwood, Hughton’s assistant at St James’ before taking the managers post at Hibernian, suggested that under the current regime, Hughton was on borrowed time. Alan Shearer also declared himself out of the initial running to become boss for a second time, which can only point to his distain at the way the club is ran.
It all points to another laughable chapter in the story of Newcastle United. Hughton’s record alone should have rewarded him with the time to build on his success the way he felt would benefit the club. Was he the man to take Newcastle on? Who knows, but he certainly should have been given the opportunity to try. Relegation seems unlikely given the quality in the squad but Ashley could come to regret sacking the man who has already spared his blushes once before.