Newcastle revert to dark old days with Hughton sacking
Published: 07.12.10 / Written by: David Gold
Newcastle’s decision to sack Chris Hughton was a surprise, but then at the same time there was something predictable about it.
It felt as though it had been a while since Newcastle had done something so blindly self-destructive. The law of averages dictated that St. James’ Park was due a meltdown.
And that meant that Hughton’s position was untenable. Hughton is a man who has turned himself into an impressive rock onto which Newcastle were flung as Alan Shearer guided them out of the Premier League and into the Championship. Hughton shored up a club in crisis following the days of fantasy and comic delusion that the likes of Kevin Keegan or Alan Shearer could take the club back to its glory days. Talking of which, is it even appropriate to believe that Newcastle are a big club anyway?
This is probably the most important question to be answered. The club seems guided by the belief that it somehow has a rightful place at the top of the Premier League table. This is a mysterious mentality, given that the last time Newcastle won anything of note man had yet to land on the moon. The club haven’t won the league since Adolf Hitler was sitting in a café plotting his rise to power in pre-Nazi Germany. Perhaps most painfully of all, Sunderland have won more top flight trophies than their Tyne neighbours. Yet the delusions of grandeur that persistently affect Newcastle have yet to transmit to the Stadium of Light. So given that Newcastle aren’t a particularly big club, let alone one whose history demands success, why sack a manager who seems to have done nothing wrong?
Hughton repeatedly took over from the managers that were flung overboard by the hierarchy at the club, whilst demonstrating that common sense and intelligence were more important than being called Alan Shearer. He then brought a club in crisis back into the Premier League in spectacular fashion and managed to form a cogent side in the Premier League, somehow controlling the impossibly difficult Joey Barton. Having crushed Sunderland 5-1, Aston Villa 6-0 and won at Arsenal and Chelsea already this season, the sacking of Hughton takes some explaining. It’s not as if he has achieved the results he has this season with a particularly good side, either. Newcastle’s squad, without meaning to sound too disparaging, is rather hopeless on paper.
There are some decent players; Enrique, Gutierrez, Carroll, Coloccini and Barton on his day. But then there are the likes of Mike Williamson, Wayne Routledge and Peter Lovenkrands, who are players whose ability is more worthy of the mid-table of the Championship than a Premier League side. That Hughton has managed to take this side and turn them into a good impersonation of an average to good Premier League team is a remarkable achievement.
To the outsider, the suspicion lurks that Hughton probably isn’t top six or top four material, though he would rightly dispute that he never had a chance to prove this. And further to the point, even if he isn’t good enough to take a side into Europe, there is no evidence of this. Just a hunch. A hunch shouldn’t guide a footballing decision of the magnamity that Newcastle have made in releasing Hughton.
Worse still, Newcastle have thrown out the individual on whom stability was built to revert to the trigger happy days of the past, where managers come and leave more frequently than the release of classified US national security documents. As Manchester City and Chelsea prove, the more often you sack your managers, the more power players are given, as they know that the likely consequence of poor form or behaviour will be the head of the boss. With players like Joey Barton and Andy Carroll in their ranks, this is a decision with potentially catastrophic consequences.