One surprise so far this season is the way the decimated Newcastle squad seem to be together and have picked up a good 7 points in their first 3 Championship games.
Chris Hughton – has kept the squad together well
And credit for that is largely due to Chris Hughton, who for the third time has been put in charge of the first team by owner Mike Ashley.
Chris has been on Tyneside just 18 months, since Kevin Keegan signed him a year last February, and he has already worked with three managers, Keegan, Kinnear and Shearer at the club.
When this is finished he could write a very interesting adventure book on his time at the club, which would probably be a best seller.
18 months on Tyneside is like 10 years anywhere else.
Chris talked to the Newcastle Journal this morning:
“Through all of this, we have generally had a good spirit at the training ground,” “We’ve had the normal ups and downs which everyone will have irrespective of whether they are at a club which has gone through some difficulties. The spirit has been good.”
“But I do feel the situation we have gone through as a club, with players leaving, has somehow galvanised us as a group of players.”
“I think we (the coaching staff) deserve some credit, but what we have also had is a smashing group of lads remaining here, very much fighting for the cause. If anything, it has brought them closer and they deserve great credit as well.”
“I am quite convinced they will certainly do all they can to make sure we are fighting at the right end of the table.”
And it looks like Chris has been more than successful at getting players to take more responsibility for the team, in these uncertain and troubled times at Newcastle.
Hughton was asked if he has asked senior players to step up to the plate:
“Yes, I have encouraged that. Very much so.” “The players that are here will remain here and I am hopeful they will remain here beyond the window.”
“So I think they realise if we are going to put ourselves in a position to challenge and get promotion, it is only this group of lads – though hopefully, there will be one or two more – who can put ourselves in that position.”
“They realize that and consequently have shown a great determination and great togetherness to want to do that.”
“The players are getting used to being part of a smaller squad and know what to expect, but it only really hits home when you are playing the amount of games we will be playing,”
“The games are coming thick and fast and every game is a tough game. Crystal Palace are coming off the back of a very good result on Tuesday, so that will be another big test for us.”
“You are always hopeful that you do not pick up injuries but I am quite sure there will be times when the squad is really going to be tested.”
“We have four young lads who have played a big part in pre-season with us and I am quite sure that at some stage, they will get their opportunities.”
“They have been with us from day one and a couple of them were in first team squad last season. Of course with the games we will be playing, I am quite sure they will be used.”
It will be a big test today at Crystal Palace, and quite honestly we’d even be happy with a draw today, but a win is the result we really want. But the lads will need to be near their best to get all 3 points today.
That would probably see us top of the Champions league tonight, and that cannot be too bad.