Talking about last night’s game, Hughton said:
“The game plan was to come here and do well.
“On the balance of play and chances it’s a game we should have won, but we have to do better.
“They were able to turn us at times, they were always a threat and had a lot of energy in the side and at the clinical moments they got the goals.
“We didn’t defend moments well enough and that enabled them to get the goals that they did. On the balance of play it’s a game that we should have won.
“I think this is a pressure on us. We are a side in this division that everybody expects to do well and certainly our own supporters expect us to do well and that’s the pressure that we carry with us in every game. That’s a pressure that we’ve got to live with.”
Yes, that plus the pressure of working with a squad that’s down by 7 players on last season’s squad, which was itself already stretched.
By contrast, Scunthorpe manager Nigel Adkins was well-pleased of course. He said:
“It’s quite simple, we haven’t hidden away from the fact that we have the smallest fan base and the smallest budget in the division.
“But it’s what you do on the field of play. We’ve got a fantastic team spirit.
“This is a great victory. When we got promoted, this was the first game everybody was looking for; Newcastle United at home.
“We packed Glanford Park out, played against a top side and we have gone and got a victory.”
Hughton may not be fazed by the defeat but I’m feeling extremely uneasy about things at the Toon just now. I was pleasantly surprised by our excellent start to the season as I’d previously doubted we’d get out of this division at the first attempt, but reality is now beginning to assert itself. I know all teams have bad runs and that a good team will turn itself around from that, so maybe this is just a bad run that will end at home to Doncaster on the weekend.
But I can’t help but fear that the small squad, the inevitable injuries, the owner who is ‘not an expert in football clubs’, his on/off sale of the club and the lack of anything but temporary planning will also play their part in determining how we finish this season.
Hughton doesn’t believe last night’s defeat will affect his job prospects though:
“It will have no effect at all,” said Hughton.
“As far as I know they [the talks] are still going ahead. I’m still very confident the situation hasn’t changed.”
I suspect Hughton is being used by Ashley to signal his intent to take the club off the market soon if nobody comes up with the £80m he’s now asking. What does Ashley have to gain by appointing him permanently when Hughton has previously indicated he’s happy to do the job of caretaker for as long as necessary? Maybe Ashley is also thinking about stability and rewarding Hughton for his efforts but I suspect the timing of his announcement to appoint Hughton suggests ulterior motives – or at least additional motives.
Ho hum – let’s see what Saturday brings.