Hughton dismissal underlines difficulties of managing
I am often asked if i am looking to return to football management. Newcastle’s sacking of Chris Hughton, with them lying 11th in the Premier League, reminds me why I am in no rush.
Of course I can relate to this situation, having lost my job when 4th in the league and one point off first place (Newcastle ironically). I always qualify this by pointing out that Middlesbrough could have sacked me when we were relegated the season before. However, the final decision left me wary of football management and wondering whether there is any point to it.
Hughton took over as manager during the fallout from relegation and following a turbulent pre-season, steered them to promotion as champions. Even with the biggest budget in the division, that was an excellent achievement and the players seemed to respect Hughton and enjoy working with him.
Since that promotion though, rumours have circulated regularly regarding his position. There has been a feeling that the hierarchy at the club were looking for someone of a ‘higher profile’. It was notable that contract talks never materialised and so it was difficult for Hughton to attract a replacement to Colin Calderwood as his Assistant.
Sure enough, despite a 6-0 win over Villa, an astonishing 5-1 derby win and a shock victory away at Arsenal, Hughton lost his job after a defeat at West Brom, where he was missing half his first choice team.
So where did Newcastle expect to be at this stage of the season?
Given that they have a weaker squad now, then when they were last in the Premier League (having lost Viduka, Given, Martins and Owen, I would say Chris Hughton has performed well to have them in 11th place. They have been inconsistent, but even the top teams have been this season and Hughton has not had top players at his disposal.
Chris, who has conducted himself with great dignity throughout all the speculation, will hopefully find a good job in football if he chooses to return. Newcastle meanwhile will presumably finish 10th or above this season?