Paying the price

Newcastle's decision to sack Chris Hughton was shabby, but entirely predictable, says Peter Fraser

Last updated: 6th December 2010  

Paying the price

Ashley: Searching for experience

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Even Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has already had his say, or should that be Tweet, on the recent decision-making policy at Newcastle United. The England captain said via his Twitter account: "Chris Hughton SACKED....is it April Fools?!"

The reaction has been mirrored around the country, with a general sense of disbelief meeting the news that St James' Park owner Mike Ashley has decided to give the club's manager the bullet after a run of five Premier League games without a win.

But Ferdinand has not been 'merked' and it is not 1st April. It is early December and, as shabby as the treatment has been perceived, that makes Hughton's dismissal entirely predictable. It was generally assumed before the start of the new season that he would have done very well to still be in a job by Christmas.

Ashley apparently wants a manager with "more experience", according to a statement on the club's official website, but it has been abundantly evident that Newcastle have been unconvinced by Hughton since returning to the Premier League.

Never mind the recent run without a win, the neccesary evidence was there when a new contract was not on offer after the mass demand for such action in the wake of the famous destruction derby victory over Tyne-Wear rivals Sunderland at the end of October. The departure of his No.2, Colin Calderwood, earlier in the season also weakened his position.

Rocked the boat

Controversy and drama are never far away from St James' Park, which makes the club so interesting and plays a part in the passion of supporters. It is always engrossing viewing and in comparison with years gone by you could have been forgiven for thinking things were at times a little boring this season. Stability, that was what Newcastle needed, but you spoke too soon.

Newcastle do not seem to be capable of going about life the easy way and Hughton's exit is the most recent time the boat has been rocked when it was completely unnecessary.

The 51-year-old brought calmness, dignity and respect to the Magpies' dugout, which has been missing in the past tenures of the likes of Alan Shearer, Joe Kinnear, Kevin Keegan, Sam Allardyce, Glenn Roeder and Graeme Souness.

Newcastle may not have been swaggering to the spectacular style of previous years, but the task Hughton performed in rescuing the inherited malaise in the North East following the relegation from the Premier League in 2008/09 was nothing short of exceptional. A newly-promoted club sitting 11th in the table, at the time of writing above Liverpool, Aston Villa and Everton, what more does Ashley want?

The famous pre-season humiliation in July 2009 against Leyton Orient seems like an eternity ago after Newcastle earned promotion from the Championship as title-winners at the first attempt as Hughton, with his hands tied by a limited transfer budget, restored morale and combined spirit at an incredible and highly commendable speed.

'Cockney Mafia'

Hughton's players, such as Andy Carroll and captain Kevin Nolan, were performing on the pitch, although perhaps not always off the field, in a reflection of their boss and that continued this season in the hammerings of Villa and Sunderland, the dramatic Carling Cup win at Chelsea, and the league win at Arsenal.

Of course there have been recent low points, with Sunday's dire defeat to West Brom proving the straw that broke the camel's back in the wake of a 5-1 drubbing at Bolton, but it should be remembered that a respectable draw with defending champions Chelsea was sandwiched in between.

It would appear that Ashley, who bought the club for £55million in May 2007, and his managing director, Derek Llambias, were looking for an excuse to remove former Tottenham and Republic of Ireland assistant manager Hughton, who himself will be due a minimal pay-off due to the fact that his contract was set to expire in June 2011.

Ashley has never been a popular figure at St James' Park and he was even forced into hiding by the furore surrounding the exit of Keegan after the so-called Geordie Messiah's second spell in charge, but he had rectified some of the damage over the past six months. That will now have been undone.

Rumours have crept along the Quayside to suggest that Hughton's dismissal is a tactic to attract an unnamed American buyer to take Newcastle off the hands of Ashley, who is understood to remain keen to sell the club after initially putting it up for sale in 2008 before changing his mind when an appropriate buyer could not be found.

But if that is true why, with Peter Beardsley in temporary charge for next weekend's meeting with Liverpool, has it been reported that Ashley and Llambias have already lined up former West Ham and Charlton boss Alan Pardew? Did someone say 'Cockney Mafia'? Part of the problem with Ashley is that he is as good as mute in the public domain, we never know what he is thinking.

Hughton has paid the price, but it is likely that the man will be far too honest and genuine to throw any mud in the aftermath. It should not be long before he finds employment elsewhere and hopefully at a club with principles to compare to his own.

Comments (40)

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Neill Mackenzie (Arsenal fan) says...

as an arsenal fan all i can say is wow! what is this ashley bloke on you totaly outplayed us at the emerates and to get a point off chelsea as well its not like you are bottom of the league, and i cant see you being relegated. surley thats a good job in your first season back in the prem. who is out there to improve on that KK again shearer again i fear for you and all my toon friends that this will backfire and you will now struggle. you really need this ashley bloke out of your club!!!

Posted 14:26 7th December 2010

Michael Thompson (Manchester United fan) says...

the man, the myth, the legend, the JOKE i give you michael Ashley

Posted 14:09 7th December 2010

Dean Ridley (Newcastle United fan) says...

Martin Jol would be good for newcastle, Martin o,neill would Not (he rated Heskey as a goalscore for years and left villa over the fact that he had no funds for new players, and could not hold on to his assetts). Yes, he won things at celtic, which plays in a second rate league at best with only two teams in it... Hello!!!!.if you come to Newcastle Fat Mike will give you no money and treat you like he treats his body...(Badly) Mike should do us a favour and die..... I wish Chris H. all the best.

Posted 14:08 7th December 2010

Michael Thompson (Manchester United fan) says...

Wake up mike if you want results try keeping a manager in that the fans want and the players need. Another good guy gone, another good manager has gone how many more? The man that needs to leave is the one that owns the club.

Posted 14:05 7th December 2010

John Wayne (Manchester United fan) says...

I would love it if they go down after this!!!

Posted 13:50 7th December 2010

Charlie Mcbeath (Manchester United fan) says...

Mike Ashley must be after the parachute payment for going down, he gets the financial bonus for getting promoted to the Premiership, spends nothing on promotion, now looks like he is trying to sabotage his own club to go back down again. Absolutely shocking decision, I feel for all the loyal Newcastle fans and Chris Hughton. Mike Cole I liked your hilarious tongue in cheek comment, Butt, Boumsong & Bramble for a European place ha ha.

Posted 13:32 7th December 2010

Simon Manchester (Manchester United fan) says...

The Circus is back in town! I've missed it!

Posted 13:30 7th December 2010

Viv Singleton (Arsenal fan) says...

are u serious LEGEND lmao if u say so

Posted 13:28 7th December 2010

Bob Neely (Liverpool fan) says...

Big club, Big support and a complete Muppet at the helm. Ashley makes Tom Hicks and George Gillette look like peole who really care about football. Just when Newcastle United were starting to become a genuine threat again. Disgraceful!

Posted 12:54 7th December 2010

Michael Burnett (Newcastle United fan) says...

Can't believe that Ashley has got rid of Chris Hughton absolute joke we were coping well in the league & Hughton had installed belief & confidence in the players & he gets rid of him!!!. Wish Ashley would do us all a favour and sell up & move far far away!!!!

Posted 12:42 7th December 2010

Mike Cole (Newcastle United fan) says...

Hughton had to go! We have been awful all season apart from a couple fluke results against Sunderland & Villa. We need to get rid of the disgrace that is Joey Barton-good footballer but is a criminal who has had too many chances. Mike Ashley is a true Newcastle legend and is the best thing to happen to our club. Bring in Peter Reid as manager and Dennis Wise as his assistant. We should sign Nicky Butt, Jean-Alain Boumsong and Titus Bramble in January and we could be pushing for Europe.

Posted 22:44 6th December 2010

Lee Megahy says...

What a joke?? it seem's nothing is enough for the Newcastle board. Let's put things in perspective........a 5-1 win against rivals Sunderland, 6-0 win against Villa, 1-0 win away at Arsenal and a draw against champions Chelsea. The board are over ambitious this season and Hughtons treatment has been disgusting. As a Newcastle fan, I personally think Hughton is well shot of a club which seems to constantly let its staff, players and fans down. Good luck and thank you for your work

Posted 22:26 6th December 2010

Mandal Ali (Arsenal fan) says...

The owner of Newcastle football team has not got any common sense at all. Hughton was the best manage, then how come you sack him? I think they will be punished in terms of results.

Posted 22:17 6th December 2010

Shamus Weir says...

mike ashley you are joke,just sell the club and dont ever step foot in newcastle again your not welcome NEWCASTLE TILL I DIE chris five one hughton LEGEND

Posted 22:09 6th December 2010

Richie Wilson (Newcastle United fan) says...

Newcastle United!!! Newcastle Disjointed!!! Soap Opera!!! Ashley should have been in that night club in Coronation Street tonight, thats the type of soap opera that would have 60000 of us NUFC fans jumping up and down. I hope the rumours on the quay side are true and he wants to sell. Best of luck Chris in the future I'm sure you will be kept busy

Posted 21:45 6th December 2010

David Ord (Newcastle United fan) says...

Thanks for everything Chris and good luck for the future, your well out of the madness, time for the fans to boycott St James Park until the fat man leaves

Posted 21:09 6th December 2010

Paul Robinson (Sunderland fan) says...

utterly disgusting.......and thats from a sunderland fan

Posted 21:07 6th December 2010

Ant Clark (Newcastle United fan) says...

take the hint................. get out of our club ashley. but to be fair who every comes in as our next manager needs our full support. nothing will be achieved by booing and giving the next manager a hard time. Over the last year the players have come together and we need to keep that if we are to stay up. but seriously ashley, DO ONE!!!!!!!!!

Posted 21:01 6th December 2010

J B (Newcastle United fan) says...

i can see where ashley is coming from wanting a manager with more experience but just to sack the current manager for a couple of dissapointing result of the back of newcastle best result in years 5-1.... is a JOKE, hughton kept the club together at the bad times and pulled us back into the preimership (where we belong) after a very rubbish season because of the chairmans input and bad decisions.... this seems like another of ashleys bad mistakes in his "have a go" chairman style

Posted 20:57 6th December 2010

Joliet Jake says...

What Newcastle needs is stability and Hughton provided that. While we haven't always had great results this season, I think Newcastle were doing as well as could be expected but now I think Newcastle will be in danger of being relegated.Ashley is the one who should be sacked - he couldn't manage a chest of drawers! Good luck Chris!

Posted 20:29 6th December 2010

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