Chris Hughton was under no illusions about how difficult it would be in the Championship this season.
Chris Hughton – very very difficult next season
And it turns out he was right, but he had his team both mentally and physically prepared, and the team was completely different from last season – when the going got tough most of our players disappeared.
Not so this season, and after the two away defeats in October to Nottingham Forest 1-0 and Scunthorpe 2-1, most of us thought the bubble had burst.
But that was not the case, as Newcastle came storming back with a 7 game winning streak.
And then earlier this year, Newcastle were well beaten at Derby 3-0 on 9th February, but since then Newcastle have won 11 of their 14 league games and drawn the other 3, all three draws being away from home. That’s 36 points from a possible 42 – and we are now on a 6 game winning streak.
So Newcastle seem to be much more together as a team than for a long time, both on and off the field, and plaudits have to go out to Chris Hughton, who has been absolutely brilliant for the Newcastle club this season – and that may even be an understatement.
But Chris knows very well how really tough it will be next season, and this is what he told the Newcastle Journal today:
“You assess what you have and what we have is a dedicated group of lads and real competition,” “We’ve gained momentum, we’ve seen players develop” .”
“I think you also look at sides who have gone (up) from this division, notably in Birmingham, who have had a wonderful season, and Wolves, who have got stronger as the season has gone on.”
“These are sides that gained promotion last season. You have to assess the areas that need strengthening but we have a squad that deserves an opportunity.”
“I’m the person in position at this particular moment but it’s about the team.” “Up until now we’ve been the best team in the division. It’d be an honour to take this team into a higher division, a division this club deserves to be in.”
“We know how tough it is for any team that gains promotion to the Premier League.” “But we’ve got to make sure we’ve got a good enough squad to be able to compete with what will be a very, very difficult period.”
“I’m in a very privileged position to be manager of this football club. It’s a wonderful feeling to have gained promotion and put ourselves in a position to win it.”
“But I’m just head of a group of lads who have performed incredibly well this season, with probably one blip which we recovered from very well.”
“Major plaudits need to go to this group of lads who have managed to get this club back into the top division.” “For me personally, it’s a very pleasing moment.”
Fans will not be particularly excited that we will follow clubs like Birmingham and Wolves, who have been up and down too many times between the Premiership and Championship in recent years.
But keeping the core of the team together makes a lot of sense, and strengthening some positions in the summer will also happen, but which positions we don’t really know.
But the core of the new team is now in place, and since most of the lads have lots of PL experience already, and now have something to prove, we have to believe we can do quite well next season and survive.
At least we’ll now be able to fight it out with teams like Stoke City, and not crumble because they fight for the win and we cannot be bothered to.
Under Chris Hughotn those games have become a thing of the past, and that’s got to be good.
But we’ll know by the first 10 games of next season how we’ll do.
We have to hope the squad will be good enough not to be in a relegation battle next season – that’s the very last thing we want to happen.
Right now, we’re quietly optimistic about next season.