After the failure by Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias to secure Alan Shearer as the permanent manager, his assistant Chris Hughton started the Championship campaign as caretaker manager. On 27 October he was appointed permanent Newcastle United manager following an impressive start to the season. Chris Hughton – who was widely considered a gentleman throughout his tenure, gave the club back some pride following a disastrous relegation season and won promotion back to the Premiership at the first time of asking. In the following season, he had the club sitting comfortably in mid-table in the Premier League; when he was surprisingly sacked on 7 December 2010.
On the day that Mike Ashley officially took the club off the market, Chris Hughton was appointed permanent manager of Newcastle United, prompting Derek Llambias to state (27 October 2009):
“We are delighted that Chris has accepted the post of full-time manager. He has done a terrific job this season and we wish him every success for the rest of this season and beyond. He will continue to receive our full backing and support.”
Source: The Guardian
Newcastle United under Chris Hughton won the Championship at a canter that season, with 102 points and a positive goal difference of +55.
One year later, with the newly promoted club sitting safely in 9th position in the Premiership, Derek Llambias backed Hughton to remain manager and promised talks for a new contract would be held at the end of the year (27 October 2010):
“Chris is our manager and will remain our manager. It is our intention to renegotiate his contract at the end of the year.”
However, a mere six weeks later and with the club still sitting comfortably in mid table at the first time of asking, Chris Hughton was unexpectedly and inexplicably sacked, as announced in the following club statement (7 December 2010):
“Newcastle United Football Club have today parted company with manager Chris Hughton. The board feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward.
“The board would like to place on record their thanks to Chris for his considerable efforts during the club’s transition from Championship to Premier League club.
“Chris has shown exceptional character and commitment since being appointed manager in October 2009. The club wishes him well in the future.”
Chris Hughton’s Newcastle United record at the time of his sacking (excluding two earlier short caretaker stints at the club) was P70 W39 D17 L14 (win percentage 55.71%).
Throughout the football world people reacted in bewilderment at Hughton’s sacking. For example his former assistant manager Colin Calderwood stated (7 December 2010):
“There’s a great deal of shock but [it’s] not unexpected because of the knowledge I had when I was there and the sort of regime that he [Hughton] was working under. It makes it difficult.
“You want to know the parameters of the job and they keep changing, and you’re not allowed to do what you think’s feasible or logical then it becomes very difficult to do your job as well as you can and at the minute the job has been done well terrifically well.
“I think you want to be able to make decisions that affect the whole of the football club at the end it became more and more difficult to do that. In terms of understanding what the budget would be and the parameters of that… it started in one place then moved to the other.”
Newcastle United captain Kevin Nolan was equally shocked and dismayed by Chris Hughton’s sacking (7 December 2010):
“We are all upset that Chris is going. He helped a lot of the lads here with their careers when he was a coach and then as manager.
“We will never forget our promotion from the Championship last season and we have to do what he told us – stick together, make sure we keep the unity Chris has built up and get through this difficult period.
“It goes without saying we were shocked by the announcement. We have not had the greatest run recently. But we are halfway up the table and he was very confident we would still do well and spoke about how he believed in us.”
Experienced Newcastle United defender Sol Campbell also commented that sacking of Chris Hughton came as a complete surprise (7 December 2010):
“This will hit the players hard. The players admired him and liked him and won’t be happy now he’s gone like this.
“It makes no sense. Here is a guy who has done an unbelievable job. He got the club back into the Premier League and any manager would have been rewarded for that with a new contract, but Chris wasn’t.
“The players are sure to be asking themselves ‘what the hell is going on?’, that is only natural. When we left training this morning none of the players had a clue this was coming. Yes, it has come as a shock, and it will affect the dressing room there is no doubt about that.”
And finally, someone who can relate to ‘interim’ periods at the club, John Carver expressed his disgust at the club’s decision to part company with Hughton (7 December 2010):
“It’s a travesty. I’m devastated and angry. It’s another situation where you have a young coach-manager learning his stripes like he did last year in the Championship, did a fantastic job, did the job with style.
“He then took them into the Premier League on limited resources, brought in some decent players and this has happened.”
Almost a year after Chris Hughton’s departure, Derek Llambias gave this typically undignified explanation for the sudden dismissal of Chris Hughton (12 November 2011):
“He would never have taken us where we want to be. That’s my decision by the way [sacking Hughton]. Chris can’t make decisions. If I am asking about a player, Ben Arfa? he says ‘I’m not sure, blah blah’.
“With Chris, he couldn’t cope with where we are mentally. We are aggressive. You need to be aggressive. I don’t want a manager below me who can’t argue.
“You guys don’t understand how f horrible we can be.”
Source: The Mirror
Rest assured Derek, we have a fairly good idea how horrible you can be…
Former NUFC intellectual heavyweight Joey Barton has gone on record saying that Hughton was sacked for supporting the bonus structure wanted by the players at the time. He also reckons that’s why he, Carroll and Nolan were shipped out. Is there any truth in this? It sounds credible but I see you don’t mention it.
I would absolutely love to go toe to toe with Llambias.