Chris Hughton has talked today about when he took over Newcastle on a temporary basis last summer, and he says that he had so much to do, that he only concentrated on things he could control, like the training, preparing and playing of the games.
Calderwood and Hughton – concentrated only on things they could control
That practical and positive approach seemed to rub off on the Newcastle players quickly, and by the end of August Newcastle had 5 wins in their first 6 games, 4 clean sheets and the only game the team didn’t win that first month of the season was the first game at WBA, when we came back to draw 1-1.
Hughton said today:
“I was still caretaker but I didn’t find it difficult. I knew I was under contract so even if a manager came in, I’d be here. I was enjoying the role, we were doing well. I had a focus.”
“There was enough training, preparation for games, picking the right team and the games themselves to keep me distracted. That all took over, I didn’t have time to dwell on anything else. It wasn’t difficult for me, even if that surprises people, it wasn’t.”
“There were always other things on my mind. The uncertainty was always there, but other things took it over, I think we were all grateful for that. We were able to block it out because it wasn’t something we could control.”
“All we focused on were the things we could control, training, winning games, the normal things. It was from that that we got this fantastic team spirit. Once the players had that focus, everything else that went on around us – it just made this group stronger.”
“They knew that they were going to be the team that was there to be shot down. They knew they were the scalp this season and they knew people were waiting for them to slip up. There was enormous pressure and expectation on them, but they gained strength and unity.”
The players certainly gained strength and unity in the wake of that initial adversity, and last season is now history – but what a history it has turned out to be for the Newcastle United club.