Speaking on his time at the club, he said (amongst other things) what some knew already, that it was actually he who brought Graham Carr, Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheick Tiote into the club.
Whilst he was managing at the club, the now Birmingham City manager was dogged by rumours in the media that he a mere cipher at the club, that the team was run by a committee of senior players who actually picked the team, and that player aquisitions were out of his control after Hughton brought his old Tottenham collegue, Graham Carr, to the club as Chief Scout. The rumours about the players running team affairs were eventually refuted by Hughton himself, who described it as a “slippery slope,” and also by Kevin Nolan and other senior players. Now, Hughton has finally hit back at other misinformation about the recruitment of key signings, Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheick Tiote, and also the recruitment of the club’s current Chief Scout, Graham Carr. After talking about the days following his sacking by Derek Llambias and Mike Ashley on the grounds they were looking for someone “with more managerial experience,” Hughton had the follwing to say, firstly on whether his sacking was “unjust,”:
“Was it unjust? Yes, and that’s how most people felt at the time.”
He then added on Tiote, Ben Arfa and Carr:
“We’d just got promotion, I had brought, contrary to other things I’ve heard, Cheick Tioté into the club. I was very fortunate because I’d also brought in a chief scout, in Graham Carr, who knew him as well and he was a great support for me.
“We had brought in Tioté and we had brought in Hatem Ben Arfa, who unfortunately broke his leg. Almost,apart from that, it was the squad that came up. We were in 10th place and at the time my feelings were the same as most people, but everybody moves on and I was very positive afterwards. Although, if I had a choice, I’d have preferred to be there, but I got a lot of support and the best solution was to be positive.”
What is known is that Hughton first brought Tiote to the attention of Kevin Keegan after being sent on a scouting mission during Keegan’s ill fated second spell as manager at Newcastle United, which was long before Graham Carr joined the club. At the time, the player was on loan to Dutch club, Roda JC (from Anderlecht in Belgium).
If I may digress slightly for the moment, Keegan himself was also the subject of similar smear stories in the media about his second tenure at St James’ Park once relations were soured with Ashley and Llambias. On his departure a “highly placed Newcastle source” allegedly spoke of the “Madness of King Kev,” suggesting that Keegan was a deluded madman who expected Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard and of course, David Beckham, to be brought into the club by Ashley the billionaire.
Getting back to Hughton though, he also had some words of praise for Ashley for how he kept at least some major players in the team on their relegation, something which did not happen at Birmingham, where no less than fifteen, mostly major, players have been sold / released since he took charge at the club in June, 2011. On this he remarked:
“Newcastle had very much a core of the team that wanted to stay, and probably that is a testament to the regime of Derek Llambias and Mike Ashley, who could have had an absolute fire sale. We lost a lot of players but there was a real good and important core of the team that stayed, and, of course, most of them were very good players.
“Nothing will change my mind about whether I think I should have lost my job. I don’t, and I still feel the same way, but there is no bitterness. The players at Newcastle needed some guidance and some motivation and probably they needed an arm around them to get them back to playing to the abilities we knew they had.”
You can read the full interview here.