Harper backing for Hughton
Steve Harper is adamant that boss Chris Hughton is still the right man for Newcastle United.
Last Updated: 04/11/10 1:51pm
Steve Harper is adamant that Chris Hughton is still the right man for Newcastle after guiding them through one of their most traumatic ever spells in their history.
Hughton guided Newcastle back to the Premier League at the first time of asking last season, but his future has been called into question in recent weeks.
His current deal is due to expire at the end of the season and talks are yet to begin over a new contract which led to extended speculation that he was set to be replaced.
Newcastle released a statement last month insisting they were fully supportive of Hughton and would open talks.
Harper has now joined those in support of Hughton and the job he is doing, saying: "This club hasn't always been stable.
"As recent as 15 months ago we were surrounded by turmoil and uncertainty. It doesn't help.
"We've had far too much of it here over the years. From last August, when Chris was appointed as manager, we have had a fantastic, stable period. Chris has worked hard and he has galvanised the place.
"To manage that situation and get this club out of a very tough position, and to have started so well in the Premier League, the players have worked hard for him, and responded to him.
"He has done a brilliant job and he is starting to get the plaudits he deserves.
"The fans made their feelings clear. Before we were winning on Sunday there was a 'Hughton is a Geordie' banner going up and they chanted his name throughout.
"They are demanding fans, but they know their football. They aren't daft and they know the job which he has done in difficult circumstances.
"He has been the ideal manager for us. He doesn't work the crowd, he just gets his head down and gets on with the job. He doesn't milk it, he gets on with things irrespective of things going on around him.
"He is incredible. He is always the same, he doesn't get carried away when things are going well and he doesn't get too down when they are not. He is very level headed, which is what this club needs. He is the perfect man for the job."
Harper is currently sidelined with a shoulder ligament injury which required surgery in September and the 35-year-old is hopeful he will be back in action come December.
"I feel good. It will be five weeks next Wednesday, I'm on target for the timescale I was set," he continued.
"I've got a full range of movement now so I've just got to work on the strength and hopefully I'll be diving around again in three weeks.
"I see the surgeon again for my eight-week check and hopefully he will give me the green light. It's just getting the confidence and strength in it to come back in December, hopefully nearer the start than the end of it."
Harper did reveal that his recovery was almost put back last weekend as he celebrated Newcastle's 5-1 win over Sunderland.
"I hurt myself celebrating the fourth goal when Shola volleyed it in. While everyone else was jumping around I was nearly crying. I'll gladly hurt my arm celebrating that," he said.
"I would have loved to have been involved, it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime games. I've played in four derby games and haven't lost, but this was something very special.
"You could tell by the city afterwards and the fans what they were singing on the day showed exactly what they thought of it."