It’s probably fair to say that the performance of manager Chris Hughton as the Newcastle manager over the last 14 months, has surprised a number of Newcastle fans – a lot.
Chris Hughton – just how good is the Newcastle manager?
Chris didn’t fair too well in our relegation season when he took over first team duties from the departing Kevin Keegan, and then from Joe Kinnear, after Joe suffered his heart problems a a year last February.
So when Mike Ashley appointed Chris just before training started for the Championship season, a few days before before July 1st last year, Newcastle fans were underwhelmed – and that’s being kind.
The Newcastle club was in the worst state they had been in for many many seasons, and in the English second division too.
But Chris had a magnificent first season in charge of the team, and yes, that was great, but we also knew it wouldn’t be so easy back with the big boys – like Chelsea for example.
Newcastle have made a fine start to the season, and are even getting some good press for some of their results – most notably the 6-0 home win against the impressive Aston Villa, and last night’s rather amazing 4-3 win at PL Champions Chelsea, in the Carling Cup.
The Newcastle team seem to be able to carve out chances, almost at will, and the first goal last night had Newcastle passing the ball around about 20 times before 19 year-old Shane Ferguson put over the cross that Nile Ranger scored from to level the scores at 1-1.
So the football is not too bad – not too bad at all, and we wonder – just how good can Chris Hughton become as manager of Newcastle United?
Of course his contract runs out next summer, but more results like last night, which has to be one of Newcastle’s best results for many seasons, and Mike Ashley should have no trouble in keeping both Chris and Colin Calderwood at the club for a few more years.
Chris hardly fits the profile of the usual Newcastle manager, since he’s not outspoken, his personality is one of withdrawal and deflecting any praise to his players – so Newcastle fans are not used to people like Chris. But people like Chris are really the salt of the earth – we know that too – somehow intuitively – that he’s a good man.
To his credit, Hughton has created a fabulous team spirit on Tyneside, as was witnessed again last night in full measure, when Newcastle overcame a number of adversities to finally get the job done – and at Stamford Bridge too.
We don’t really know how good this Newcastle squad can become.
But what we do know is they are becoming more and more professional as a team under Chris Hughton’s guidance, and we could even be the surprise team in the Premier League this season.
But some of Chris’ down to earth thinking is also rubbing off on us, and we are not going to get carried away one little bit with the success of the last couple of games, and the next job for the side is to get all 3 points on Sunday afternoon – it’s just that simple.
No doubt Chris will be pummeling that into the players, over the next couple of days, that a win on Sunday afternoon is vital for at least two good reasons – and maybe even three.
One is that last time out against Blackpool the 2-0 defeat was embarrassing, and the Newcastle fans deserve a much better performance on Sunday afternoon.
The second reason is that Stoke City in the corresponding fixture two years ago, came back from 2-0 down at half time, to snatch a 2-2 draw in the second minute of injury time, through former player Abdoulaye Faye, and those two points lost at the death, could have saved Newcastle from relegation.
And if the players need a third reason – it’s that the more points we can pick up before the end of the year, the better chance we will have of not even being involved in a relegation struggle this season, and that would be a tremendous success for Newcastle United this first season back with the big boys.
I’ve always been proud of Newcastle United – but never quite as much as I was last night, because the lads were simply magnificent – in every sense of the word – and they were a credit to our famous club. And it certainly seems that Chris has some of the characteristics of the great managers.
One example last night was when Shola Ameobi had just scored what looked like the winning goal in the 90th minute, and the referee announced, rather amazingly, there would be 6 minutes of added time.
The TV cameras showed Chris, and he was standing on the touchline, seemingly as cool as a cucumber, in what was close to being one of Newcastle’s greatest results for years, and certainly his best result yet as the Newcastle manager.
That coolness and professionalism he shows all the time, has simply transformed the Newcastle squad, and they now seem to know how to get wins out of the most difficult of circumstances.
To say that is a compliment indeed for this current Newcastle squad, and again we wonder just how strong is it?
But we’ll echo what Chris will be saying very shortly – we need a win on Sunday afternoon and that’s the only things that matters right now.
Oh yes, and the Chelsea win is gone – it’s over – it’s now history.
But great history for Newcastle fans.