Mark Hughes Was Ashley’s First Choice

Mark Hughes last night refused to rule himself out of the Newcastle United’s management vacancy while Newcastle club sources said that the Welshman features on their shortlist, and in fact was initially Mike Ashley’s first choice.


Mark Hughes – good management record at Blackburn Rovers

The Blackburn Rovers manager is admired by Mike Ashley, Newcastle’s owner, and after his side’s 2-1 win at Bolton yesterday, Mark consistently avoided answering questions about taking over at the Newcastle club.

Ashley insiders are even saying that Mark was Ashley’s first choice to succeed Allardyce before Mike’s close friend, Paul Kemsley, the former Spurs director, persuaded Mike to go for Portsmouth’s Harry Redknapp. That’s good PR but we don’t believe one word of it.

Apparently the English Billionaire began to admire Mark’s management abilities, when he started visiting Ewood Park, while doing some business work with Lonsdale, Blackburn’s former kit manufacturer and an Ashley company.

When pestered last night about the Newcastle position Mark said:

“That’s a hypothetical question and I don’t answer hypothetical questions. It’s not in my hands; it’s in the chairman’s hands.”

“I’m proud to be Blackburn Rovers’ manager but in football you can never say never.”

Mark has done extremely well in his two previous managerial appointments with the Wales National team and then with Blackburn Rovers.

There is growing evidence this morning that Mark Hughes could even be Newcastle’s manager before Wednesday’s game against Stoke City, in our 3rd round FA Cup replay. While Mark wouldn’t be an exciting appointment for the club’s fans, he could certainly turn out to be a good one.

For the record Mark’s management career at Blackburn since taking over on 5th September, 2004 are as follows

Played  Won Lost Drawn
 173     78  55   40

That’s a 45% win record. We’ll just have to stay tuned and see what happens.

Comments very welcome – and please make sure you have voted in our Newcastle Manager poll to the right at the top – everybody gets one vote – thanks.

46 comments so far

  • KevinHann

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:03 AM

    Comment #1

    Mark would be a good choice. I still prefer Keegan though. Mark would be just good. Keegan would be special, emotional and earthshaking. Plus we would beat Man Utd 6-0 right back at St. James’
    Ok, ok, I know I got carried away.

  • Willowtoon

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:03 AM

    Comment #2

    Mark Hughes would be a very good appointment. He has a lot to prove at a big club and if he is destined to be Man u boss at some point then turning around Newcastle will do it.

    I remember loads of Newcastle fans amazed that we got souness and blackburn got Hughes when we could have had hughes. They wanted him then.

    It seems clear that Ashley want british and Hughes fits the bill. I will be 100% behind him if we are lucky enoughto get him and I do mean lucky. This guy is a potentially brill manager and look at his work in the transfer market.

    If he takes it he isn’t coming for the money as he does not need it and his reputation is far more important unlike some of the past or foreign managers mentioned on here.

  • tdt

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:04 AM

    Comment #3

    hmmm no thanks!

  • JW

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:06 AM

    Comment #4

    Whoever proof reads the site is doing a rubbish job; there’s two ‘U’ s in Hiddink’s name. It’s Guus Hiddink and before anyone votes for him as Newcastle’s next manager don’t forget he was found guilty of tax evasion to the tune of 1.4 million euros!

  • Nobby's dad

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:07 AM

    Comment #5

    Much as I loved KK what this club needs is a youngish manager who’ll be in the job for the long haul. Don’t forget KK did away with the reserves and as a consequence we missed and lost several northern lads (Carrick for one).

  • obafemimartins

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:08 AM

    Comment #6

    have you read this article offf sky sports about keegan?

    Former Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan is not ruling himself ‘in or out’ of a return to the club he ‘loves’.

    Keegan has emerged as a popular choice to replace Sam Allardyce at St James’ Park after Harry Redknapp’s decision to stay at Portsmouth.

    Reports have claimed that Keegan could form a managerial ‘dream team’ with Magpies legend Alan Shearer.

    When asked about any interest in a second stint as Newcastle boss by Sky Sports News, Keegan admitted he had not had time to think about the subject.

    However, he acknowledged his affection for the club and did not dismiss the possibility of another stab at the job.

    Club I love

    “I’m not ruling myself in or out, or anything,” Keegan told Sky Sports News.

    “It’s a club I love and that’s all I’m prepared to say. Everybody knows that. It’s a club I’ve managed before.”

    Keegan’s first spell as Newcastle manager started in February 1992 as he kept the team in the old Division Two before winning the title the following year.

    He led the club to third spot in their first campaign in the Premier League and blew a 12-point lead at the top in the 1995/96 season.

    After leaving the club in January 1997, Keegan had spells in charge of Fulham, England and Manchester City, which was his last managerial position almost three years ago.

  • KevinHann

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:12 AM

    Comment #7

    You blame the manager for something we can not know whose fault it was. I don’t say get Keegan for life, get him for the next couple seasons and make the club attractive for better managers! But no, you want it all now, this minute, hold your breath, oh my, we missed to get Mourinho! What will we do now! I am throwing my season ticket in the bin.
    What crap!
    And JW, what does tax evasion have to do with his managerial skills? Oh, you want him to be the perfect gentleman, white, preferably of royal origin, and to keep strictly to the etiquette of tea-time. Top managers are dirty, don’t you know it? All of them. To be that good you need to handle some things in another manner. It all comes at a price.

  • GM

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:14 AM

    Comment #8

    Hughes is MA’s 1st choice for the job, f**k me this is all made up bullshit from the press coz they dont know f**k. According to the same press redknapp was flying to newcastle on friday to sign his contract as MAs first choice. They dont know what is going on, they are MAKING it all up.

    Sky and the rest must have so many splinters up their arses coz they jump from one side of the fence to the other, when their previous dead cert appears totally wrong.

    My choice would be a foreign manager, who I’m not sure, like most I would like to see Ottmar, Jose, Val gaal, Scolari etc i think a total change in diorection is needed in terms of how the team train/play & scout for tallented youngsters.

    I dont think the appointment of hughes would be big enough to attract the type of players we need to drag our arses up the table.

  • KevinHann

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:14 AM

    Comment #9

    Yes, Obafemi. I am thinking of having Keegan till we lead 12 points, then get Sam Allardyce back for 6-7 games and get a couple ugly wins and a few draws and rub it to sir Alex 😀

  • Hadrian

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:15 AM

    Comment #10

    yeah well his my last choice , another guy handed his chance , or a big payoff .
    hughes is dull as hell and is as good as a manc in my eyes .

  • Nomis_jade

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:16 AM

    Comment #11

    Manager chat aside for a second, i think the best news is that we wont have smith or butt available for our next two games. That means it will have to be emre and zog. If we played the same formation as the manu game we could put roz in the defensive mid role. Neway, if we get a manager in quick he wont be playing butt or smith! great stuff. And i would quite like hughes, although keegan would be class as well.

  • Christer

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:20 AM

    Comment #12

    First of all I believe this was for sure the wrong time to sack BSA. Now we have little time to make use of the transfer window. Secondly I believe that Newcastle have to let the coming manager work in peace for a set amount of time, let say 5 years, and give him the possibility to present to the board the way of playing that he wants and sees. Newcastle have sadly become a club that sacks every manager before their time. How many managers do we have left to pick from until everyone has been at the club once. Is that the way to go when everybody else is striving for continuity and security. I believe not. Newcastle has sadly also begun to be a joke in the premier leauge. To do a Newcastle is to sack a manager. Thirdly, I believe that Mark Hughes is a great manager for being a brittish one. But as a Magpie supporter I also believe that the need of seeing beyond the geordie view, and the english horizon is a must in todays football. The reasons for this is that there already are a battle within Premier Leauge, where the game has changed by foregin managers. There is no use then to now, if Newcastle is going the way I am praying, to appoint a brittish manager, who might not have the global view that is nessesary to find the goldcoins that reside in the lower leauges in other european contries. I would love to see a manager that has the support of ashley, mort and everybody in the club leadership as well as among the supporters. We need a name that sends respect into the other clubs, a factor to count with, that Newcastle has finally left the kicking field and set down for a manager for decades to come. I would prefer to see Jose Mourinho in the manager seat at the club in the end of the week, other preferable choices would be Ottmar Hitzfield or Louis van Gaal. Lets unmderstand that the Manager post is the most important place in any club, and let every pound count in the way of sucess in the club that we all love so much

  • Tom_Toon

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:24 AM

    Comment #13

    Please not hughes!

  • ChrisM

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:27 AM

    Comment #14



    (I cant belive its now came to this for me to say thats who should be in)

  • Oba Martins

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:27 AM

    Comment #15

    Shearer and Keegan for me and if not them a foreign Manager. Please dont get Mark Hughes.

  • Hammy

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:30 AM

    Comment #16

    The only difference being that Blackburn probably want to keep Hughes……
    They must have been pissing themselves when we approached them for Souness.

  • Christer

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:32 AM

    Comment #17

    I read in an article the other day that Jose Mourinho wanted back to Premiership, have a club with potential and try to find a club that is underacchieving. Well Newcastle fits the bill perfectly. The idea of Keegan/Shearer is the absolutley best if we really have to go for a brittish manager.

  • GM

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:37 AM

    Comment #18

    Hughes was ashley’s 1st choice….?? was redknapp not his first choice and on a plan to newcastle on friday to SIGN his contract…according to the media, lets be honest about this, the press know absolutly F**K all about what is going on. They must have so many splinters up their arses coz they jump from one side of the fence to the other whenever their dead cert for the job…isnt such a dead cert.

    For a man that does not speak to the press, MA is certainly appearing with a lot of quotes, the article in the news of the world yesterday, claiming that he wants to bring sexy football back to the club, has just been confirmed as made up, so all this talk is just that TALK.

    I personally dont think Hughes is the right man for the job, I dont think he will be able to attract the top players we need to drag this club back up the league, he doesnt seem to have much of a scouting network in place either as a man with a small transfer fund at b’burn he doesnt seem to acquire the type of young talent others like wenger seem to find.

    I want to see a foreign manager at the club, who im not sure but the names of ottmar, jose, val gaal, scolari etc all appeal but Im not sure which ones we could get, but I do think a total change is needed, the whole setup from training techniques, tactics, playing staff, scouting the whole lot, as what we are doing and have been doing for years now hasnt delivered. I listened to John Terry on sunday and he spoke about jose, he said that the man was amazing on the training pitch and everyday they learned something new that improved them…that is what we need.

  • Leo*

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:40 AM

    Comment #19

    i got two votes because i also voted at uni on the computers there ah hahaha.

    hughes wasnt the first choice, well we cant be sure of that at least, only ashely mort and deputies will know who was or wasnt… we will just have to wait and see…

    what was keegan doing up in scotland?

  • Kein

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:47 AM

    Comment #20

    Is Hughes really going to be any better than BSA?? He has done positive things in Blackburn, but is he a BIG manager that can use big cash from Ashley well and make Newcastle a team that “can give Chelsea a walloping”? Besides his football isn’t that entertaining..(I don’t care so much about that if we are winning games, but many people here do)..

    And Keegan then..What has he been doing past three years? Has he got what it takes to be succesful in modern football?? Don’t get me wrong..not critisising KK, just wondering can he bring back the glory days anymore..?

    We should go for a high-class proven manager who can attract and also handle big name players. The best choices for me would be Jose, Lippi, Hiddink, Van Gaal??, Rijkaard (Barca’s gonna kick him out soon 🙂 ), Hitzfeldt…Not sure if anyone of those are interested though..

  • Leo*

    Jan 14, 2008 at 11:52 AM

    Comment #21

    i might be wrong but i am pretty sure that keegan has a coaching school… so he has been in the game…. mentally. its very hitech because i remember watching it on ssn and he was showing some new passing mechanism to help players periferal vision

  • ToonKing

    Jan 14, 2008 at 12:12 PM

    Comment #22

    jesus…….Mark Hughes…….were just getting deeper and deeper in shite’, i reckon we’ll bring Souness back ffs……..

  • paul p

    Jan 14, 2008 at 12:36 PM

    Comment #23

    i still say we should be going for either mourinho or keegan. i watched both games yesterday and pompey were shocking so am glad we did not get redknapp and a dont want hughes either. we need someone who understands us. the passion, the football, someone who can attract world class players to newcastle. someone who can give us a lift. we need an appointment before the stoke game as everyone is flat at the min so will give players a lift if an exciting name is appointed. keegan or mourinho certainly would, and they would get rid of all the average players that we currently have. Thats why we are struggling.

  • Moy

    Jan 14, 2008 at 12:37 PM

    Comment #24

    I don’t see how different Hughes is from Allardyce & Souness.

    Now I’m starting to wonder why they even want to sack Sam if there’re targets are nowhere better than Sam.

  • Craig

    Jan 14, 2008 at 12:44 PM

    Comment #25

    What a Hughes disappointment that appointment would be …. sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • James

    Jan 14, 2008 at 12:56 PM

    Comment #26

    The Hughes rumours came from Hughes saying he’d like the job. Newcastle have not said a word and never indicated that he has ever been considered.

    Stop believing the gutter press.

  • Ed Harrison

    Jan 14, 2008 at 1:02 PM

    Comment #27

    James – but Mark is favorite with the bookies – and they don’t throw money away.
    here’s latest bookies

    3-1 Hughes
    5-1 Keegan
    11-2 Shearer
    13-2 Houllier
    10-1 Jol
    25-1 Mourinho
    66-1 Hitzfeld

    Think the dark horse there is Houliier.

  • tommyy

    Jan 14, 2008 at 1:16 PM

    Comment #28

    I woudn’t mind Hughes tbh. He has done very well at Blackburn, and i think he has what it takes to manage a big club and be successful. Something BS and Redknapp can not do. Also he is great on the transfer market and with the money he would get at NUFC we could get some very good players in. He plays attacking football and likes a team that scores goals: perfect for us. He is a more long term manager, which is exactly what we want and was tipped to be the succesor to Ferguson at Man u so that means he must have what it takes in some form. I also think he would prefer us as he would be able to claim NUFC as a legacy he has built himself, unlike at Man u, where he would constantly be compared to Ferguson and will find it very difficult to prove he is better than him as everything he inherits will be of Fergusons era and creation.
    After that very long winded paragraph, i would like to conclude with the main point that Hughes could be the ideal man for us after thinking about it.

  • singapore geordie

    Jan 14, 2008 at 1:19 PM

    Comment #29

    um… lol. but the bookies had made redknapp the favourite until he rejected the offer. i’m thinking that this is all an elaborate scam by ashley and we are all going to be shocked at the end of the day. But DAMN.. I’m gonna get myself a pint and say.. I’m Vindicated.

  • Barney

    Jan 14, 2008 at 1:24 PM

    Comment #30

    It’s funny reading this peice and your responses as you genuinely feel a sense of entitlement to whomever in football you wish. NUFC are a great club with fantastic support. But until you adjust your expectations and realise that greatness can’t be achieved in three or four seasons, you’re always going to be frustrated with the lack of results. Look how long it took AF to get Man Ure moving. Einstein said the ultimate definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing over and over each time expecting a different result. Giving your managers mere snippets of time to do a job smacks of Einstein’s lunacy.

    Good luck in the future nonetheless. A Blackburn fan in Australia.

  • scott9

    Jan 14, 2008 at 1:25 PM

    Comment #31

    please not houlier no get keegan and shearer hughes owuld be ok aswell would need time thoiugh

  • Jon

    Jan 14, 2008 at 1:34 PM

    Comment #32

    Mark Hughes is not coming to Newcastle that’s for sure.
    Houllier is the worst manager on this planet. He did such a bad job at Liverpool. He’s not welcome at SJP 🙂

  • Moy

    Jan 14, 2008 at 1:43 PM

    Comment #33

    Yeah man , agree with Singapore Geordie.

    I’m sure we’re all gona wake up PLEASANTLY surprised by Mike’s appointment…I know he’s keeping someone quality in the bag…Just wait & see…

  • Toon Al

    Jan 14, 2008 at 1:45 PM

    Comment #34

    well everyone, if we actually sit down and have a little reality check…

    keegan has been out of the game for too long to have the pullinh power to attract young big names,

    shearer is too inexperienced especially at this level, the only thing he would really have going for him is his name, could attract big name players, but who knows of his tactical awareness for a full team and organisational skills? big risk keegan style lightning probly wont strike twice

    managers such as mourinho, lippi and ahte like are amazing and either of those would be immense here, but i dont think they will come..

    mark hughes has made some bloody coy transferes recently with little money, mccarthy, santa cruz most notably, if he has more money i think he could be alright..

    .. i wouldnt be gutted if it turned out to be mark..

    but i want lippi or mourinho (totally just contradicted myself, oh well)

  • Moy

    Jan 14, 2008 at 1:54 PM

    Comment #35

    I seriously agree with Singapore Geordie. I’m optimistic that we’re all gonna wake up PLEASANTLY surprised with Mike’s next appointment….Who knows who he’s got in his bag already…Let’s just wait and see.

  • Obafan

    Jan 14, 2008 at 2:31 PM

    Comment #36

    At the end of this circus; I only hope 2 thing that the manager that MA brought in is going to be the time he needs to develop our team.

    But I still do not prefer the likes of Hughes, McClaren, Souness, … cause they are no improvement to SA. They are THE SAME!!!

    If MA wants his own manager and it is one of those then I think he has got no football knowledge and that he takes a very big gamble….

    I start to be positive about Shearer, but I can’t see KK come bakc. He has had his time and I think he won’t be able that he can repeat his stunts… Tho’ if he is the man, than I really hope that I’m 500% WRONG!!!

  • DC Toon

    Jan 14, 2008 at 2:32 PM

    Comment #37

    I think Jose would be incredible, but it is just not going to happen. Maybe one day the team will be on the right track and a manager like that will come, but that day is not here.

    Mark Hughes has done good things at Blackburn. I like his emphasis on passing as opposed to BSA long-ball junk. I can see him starting Owen and Martins together, which in my opinion will give us the best chance to score.

    The team needs an overhaul but it is going to have to be a gradual one. Until Ashley demonstrates the ability to splash the cash, a manager like Jose will not come. Remember, when he came to Chelsea, Roman had shown a willingness to overspend on players. Jose knew he would have the ability to quickly revamp the squad. Ashley has not demonstrated that. I think he will be willing to do so, but only time will tell.

    Toon needs to move forward. Mark Hughes will move the team forward.


    Jan 14, 2008 at 3:07 PM

    Comment #38

    MA will return tomorrow from Hong Kong and I’m pretty sure he will straight turn to newcastle business and bring in the new manager asap! If it’s HUGHES I’m ok…but if it’s HOULLIER I’m delighted and very very trustfull in our future!

  • geordiegav

    Jan 14, 2008 at 3:13 PM

    Comment #39

    Don’t think Hughes is the man for the job. Apparently some of the press are reporting today that Blackburn are after Amady Faye….says it all really!!!
    The only way to go is get someone like Keegan or Houllier in for a few years to work alongside Shearer (if he agrees to this) then hand over the reins to Shearer alone to bring some long term stability to the club! Just want to see some exciting football back on the field thats worth paying £500 a season for. Here’s hoping!

  • Obafan

    Jan 14, 2008 at 3:49 PM

    Comment #40

    Elfer – Houllier has now become my favourite to take the job. We have to be realistic, he would be the highest achievable IMO….

    I don’t think Hughes will be that good for us. Then it would be the same as sticking with SA IMO…


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