Former Newcastle manager Chris Hughton has quite a bit of management experience in the Championship and was unlucky last season not to get his latest club Brighton & Hove Albion promoted.
Chris will be at St. James’ Park again in the coming season although in April and May we were hoping that would be with both clubs in the Premier League.
But it didn’t turn out that way and it was bad news for both Newcastle and Brighton that both clubs are in England’s second division.
Chris Hughton and Colin Calderwood at Brighton
Chris (along with assistant manager Colin Calderwood) will get a huge welcome on Tyneside when he brings his Brighton side to St. James’ Park on 27th August and he will deserve it.
Chris still hasn’t received the full credit he deserves for the way he brilliantly managed the team seven years ago and got us promoted from the Championship in 2010 with a massive 102 points and 30 wins.
His reward was to get fired in early December of that year, with Managing Director Derek LLambias being the main instigator of that daft decision.
We respect Chris’ opinions and when he says Newcastle will find it hard this season down below – that’s a cause for concern.
This is what Chris said last week in the local Brighton paper – The Argus:
“I think Newcastle will find it hard because the league is hard.”
“Ritchie and Gayle are two Premier League players, but they know the Championship as well.”
“The impression I get straight away from their purchases is they are buying to get promotion from the Championship.”
“They have bought two very good players and because of the financial clout they have, I expect them to buy well for the Championship.”
“And however hard they find it, one thing is guaranteed, it will be a tough place to go. I expect them to have a good season.”
“Rafa Benitez is a well-traveled manager and a very good manager. Even though he hasn’t experienced it, he’ll know what the Championship is like.”
“He’s very good at what he does. Rafa Benitez sets his teams up very well and I think that will be a plus in this division. He is just going to have to do that more often than he is used to, with the volume of games.”
“I think he’ll cope because he is an adaptable manager. They are entitled to be favorites and I’d be very surprised if the two players they have just signed are the only players they bring in.”
“I think they’ll have a real go at getting out of this division.” “The favorites will be determined by the end of the summer transfer window and what work they’ve done.”
“If Villa bring in several players to do the same they will be on the same level. Both of them will be very difficult places to go.”
“It lifts the profile of the Championship when you have got Newcastle and Villa in particular, no disrespect to Norwich.”
Most of that is positive from Chris apart from that first sentence.
We still think people are under-rating Rafa’s ability as a manager to handle a long tough season in the Championship.
Rafa’s teams often play close to 60 games a season, because they are nearly always in Europe – like Valencia, Liverpool, Inter-Milan and Naples.
Chris Hughton and Colin Calderwood at Newcastle
So Rafa is used to playing lots and lots of games in a season and using his squad appropriately.
So we are not sure Rafa himself will find it that tough – although he is not a person to take anything for granted.
It would be good if both Newcastle and Brighton can be in the Premier League next May.