Earlier today, Newcastle United parted company with their manager Chris Hughton to begin the merry-go-round of speculation about who will be the new boss of the Tyneside club. It brings to an end the most stable period in Geordieland since Bobby Robson left the club so many years ago. The question that many Newcastle fans are asking tonight is why.
Hughton backed into the position on several different occasions as a result of other managerial changes and to be fair to the club, never really shed the title of caretaker manager. However, Hughton seemed to have cemented the position last year by leading the club comfortably to promotion to the Premier League. They had made a slow start to the season with a couple of bad defeats but inconsistency was their biggest challenge after solid wins against Sunderland and Arsenal. He seemed to have the confidence of the players and owner Mike Ashley looked to be comfortable with Hughton at the helm.
However, as Newcastle United fans know from experience, nothing is for sure at St James’s Park, and turmoil is never very far away from this club, who have failed to win a major trophy in almost 40 years. The fans clamour for success and fan loyalty rivals that in Manchester and Liverpool, but the future looks bleak unless Ashley picks a top ranked successor to Hughton. Currently, the two managers most likely are Martin O’Neill, who left Aston Villa at the beginning of this season, and Martin Jol, who today resigned from Dutch giants Ajax due to “lack of success”.
Ironically, Hughton worked for Jol at Tottenham Hotspur when Jol was manager at White Hart Lane, but I’m guessing that there are some managers out there currently who would be nervous to take over the job at Newcastle United, given the chaotic history of the previous 6-7 years. Newcastle fans are very demanding and in this case, are furious that Hughton has been shown the door. Players are also unhappy at the decision which only makes the job that much harder for the new boss.
Whoever gets the job will need all the luck in the world, and maybe even that won’t be enough.