… and the latest manager to be kicked prematurely from the world’s-shittest-merry-go-round, Chris Hughton, has more cause than many in recent memory to be disgruntled with the decision.
Right; cards on the table. This is a very early reaction to news that, even with NUFC’s (at its current ‘custodian’s’) apparent delight at pointing the shotgun directly at their own feet, came as a total shock to me, so it may be a little garbled. But the main point is not a contentious one, and will no doubt be repeated by all and sundry in the coming weeks. Why on earth cause more drama? Just when the dust of relegation/ promotion seemed to have settled, just when the chants for the fat cockney bastard to get out of town had subsided, just when the big top seemed to have been packed away for the foreseeable future, we give the nation’s press another opportunity to make the club the laughing stock of English sport. Again.
Was Hughton the best manager in the Premiership? No, of course not. For my part, I thought he was too hesitant in making substitutions, he seemed to put far too much faith in certain players (Jonas) and not enough in others (Ranger – despite the new contract, didn’t get enough game time). But NUFC are patently not one of the better teams in this league. Despite the 5-1 against the mackems, despite a remarkable win at Arsenal, and a commendable draw against an admittedly sub-par (and pretty unlucky) Chelsea, we were still relegation material – not through any fault of Hughton’s, just because the premise of ‘last up, first down’ is still so prevalent in the Premiership.
That we were (until the frankly poor performance at West Brom.) level on points with the Baggies and Blackpool means that we were holding our own – we were where we should be, if not higher. This fact is made clear by the fact that there has not been a sniff of sacking around the Hawthorns, nor at Blackpool (except for Holloway threatening to fall on his own sword) and rightly so. Christ, even with Liverpool’s (for them) terrible start, even with the often tumultuous West Ham rooted to the bottom of the table, even with Wolves struggling, none of these clubs have even hinted at a sacking – so why have we?
In an interview with radio 5, former assistant coach Colin Calderwood hinted that there must be a replacement ready to fill the position – although his justification for this was that it would be insane not to have someone in mind. However the club statement concluding with ‘the search for a replacement begins now’ doesn’t quite fill me with confidence.
OK, so the notion of getting someone with ‘more experience’, to manage a team now playing with the big boys makes sense (to someone who is an idiot) – but who, realistically, are we going to get. Martin O’Neil has turned the job down the last time it was offered – so too did mark Hughes, Steve Bruce, ‘Arry Redknapp – everybody. We had to resurrect Joe Kinnear (who, all joking aside, I actually thought was dead) last time – what barrel will we have to scrape this time?
Basically, as everyone can see, this is the worst sort of knee-jerk reaction from someone who not only clearly doesn’t understand anything about the logistics of running a football club (this has been demonstrated time and time again) but who, I am beginning to think, is cynically causing chaos to court the attention. I really think that Ashley was getting bored of not having NUFC the main topic of footballing debate, so has orchestrated another crisis – no press is bad press, right?
If the club haven’t got someone in place (an apparently all bets are off on Alan Pardew – a though which I can’t even bear to consider at the moment. Yes, he has experience; but of basement management and relegation and I know that’s the situation we’re in just now – but come on!) then I really despair because, in our quest for experience, we will, in all likelihood, have Beardsley and Stone – two men who have never managed at first team level – leading out the team against Liverpool. The game against Liverpool is surely one that we are not expected to get anything from (although I think we could), so why not wait until after this game, whilst putting the feelers out for a replacement, to sack Hughton – that’s if you feel you have to sack Hughton, which frankly is ridiculous.
So the depressing upshot of all of this is that the great work that Hughton has done is all unpicked at the first sign of…. what? We’re not bottom of the league, we have had some good results. Alright, some bad ones too, but the team will inevitably take time to (re)adjust to the pace of the Premier – Hughton’s main plus points were not his ‘experience’, nor his tactical acumen, but the fact that he made NUFC – as a media story – quite ordinary. A good result here, a bad result there, just a regular team looking to grasp at some sort of stability. Yet, once again, the carpet has been pulled from under our feet. Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen, for the most frustrating show on earth!