I also think that Chris Hughton has been given a lot of credit for it over the last few months, and rightly so. We all know Hughton did a great job last season, certainly an effective one.
The lines have been read over and over again already, with praise popping up for Hughton with regard to getting the team united again, believing in themselves, not fighting with each other (too often), and most importantly, looking like they actually want to play for the shirt that I personally have such pride in wearing. Which is why it baffles me that our former manager, Glenn Roeder, believes that Hughton should be recieving more credit than he has done already. Why? Just, why? For me, Hughton needs to prove he can motivate his team in the Premier League next season before he recieves another widespread outpouring of fullsome praise. It appears my viewpoint is slightly different to that of Roeder however.
“I think Chris Hughton has done an extraordinary job – 12 months ago nobody could have thought Newcastle would achieve exactly what they have done,” Roeder said.
“Perhaps Chris hasn’t had the amount of plaudits he should have had. He’s done it with the help of senior players, but that’s fine – you can only work with what is around you, and that’s exactly what he’s done. He can be proud of his achievements.”
I disagree with Roeder on this, I think Hughton has had the right amount of credit. Sure, what Hughton has overseen has been a massive change of attitude in the players, but just how much of that was down to him, or how much of it was down to the senior players? Either way, I guess it worked, and we embarked on a season in which so many records were broken after we were tipped by many to struggle.
But all that will mean nothing if we are sitting here in twelve months time debating more trips to teams in the second tier of English football after slipping out of the Premier League. Although Hughton wouldn’t be entirely to blame, he would have to shoulder his fair share of the criticism, however hard the job has been made for him.
I have faith in my team though, and I reckon we will survive next season with Hughton at the helm. But if it does all end up going pear-shaped, then I get the feeling that Hughton will escape the majority of the backlash, with the recipient of that being Mike Ashley instead. It’s how Ashley reacts to any criticism that will determine if Hughton is still here in twelve months time.
Will Ashley listen to any criticism directed at him, and then act upon it by wielding the axe? Will he stay true to form and not listen to a word the fans say whilst soaking up any criticism? This is not meaning to sound all doom and gloom, and I hope neither situation has to arise. But even though I think we can survive, I am not foolish enough to believe that next season will be a walk in the park either.
There will be poor performances from time to time. We will suffer the odd humping, like we have become accustomed to in the last few Premier League seasons. We won’t be winning as many games as we did last season.
For Hughton to earn his next chunk of credit he needs to prove he can cut it in the Premier League, and most importantly he will need to prove he can keep the morale of the squad up after a difficult run of games, and potentially after a run of defeats.
If he can do that, then he deserves more credit.