In a familiar return to nonsensical ownership decisions, Newcastle United sacked manager Chris Hughton this week and appointed former Charlton and West Ham manager Alan Pardew as his replacement.
Just for those who don’t know, the following is a brief summary of Newcastle’s performance under Hughton which prompted his dismissal:
- They won immediate promotion back to the Premier League in his first season in charge by winning the Championship.
- The team is up to 12th place in the table with 21 points and boast the 5th highest number of goals scored in the league (24).
- This season they have beaten Aston Villa 6-nil, Everton 1-nil (away from home), Sunderland 5-1, Arsenal 1-nil (away from home), and drawn Chelsea 1-1 in the Premier League, as well as knocked Chelsea out of the Carling Cup by winning 4-3 (again, away from home).
- Striker Andy Carroll is the third highest scorer in the league, with 9 goals to his name, and he won his first England cap this season.
Yeah, what a disgraceful first half of the season. I mean, Newcastle just bounced up from the Championship – they should be challenging for Europe! *face palm* Let’s put things into perspective here: for a newly promoted club, just being outside of the drop zone is the main goal. Hughton had accomplished a lot more than just that.
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The club stated that they were looking for someone with “more managerial experience” to guide the team. That of course implies that Hughton would have been fired no matter what, whether the team underperformed or, as it turned out, outperformed expectations. And obviously that makes tons of sense. Owner Mike Ashley really needs to get Barcelona on the phone too so he can explain to them how important managerial experience is and why Pep Guardiola should be sacked. The first treble in Spanish history? Doesn’t count! If your resume doesn’t have at least five years of top club management on it, you clearly have no idea what you’re doing. Which is exactly why Ashley appointed Alan Shearer as manager for the tail-end of the 2008-09 season, who had a grand total of 0 matches of managerial experience. Shearer has had an accomplished career as a player and BBC pundit, though, so it was ok (well, kind of…the club got relegated under his watch).
The question that many people are left asking, as has been so often the case under the Mike Ashley regime, is why? Even the players were dumbfounded. Danny Simpson summed it up nicely with a tweet on Monday: “Shocked”. He has a right to be. And so does every Newcastle supporter and player. The fact is that Hughton did a brilliant job since taking over, had the team performing better than anyone had expected them to this season, and simply did not deserve to be fired.
And to fire him for Alan Pardew? Pardew is a solid manager, but does Ashley really expect him to do that much better than Hughton under the circumstances? Considering his career thus far in both the Premier League and the Championship, there’s definitely no evidence for that.
In football, as with most things in life, the old adage still applies: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. Mike Ashley needs to stop fixing things that aren’t broken. The Toon Army already experienced one relegation in the last few years, and if Ashley isn’t careful, they might be experiencing another one very soon.
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In more positive news for Newcastle, keeper Steve Harper returned for the reserves this week, completing 65 minutes in a match against Middlesbrough. Harper is returning from shoulder surgery, and in his absence, Dutch keeper Tim Krul has deputized.
In Merseyside, news is buzzing that Ronaldinho could be making his way to Anfield in January. The Brazilian playmaker has slipped out of form and favor at AC Milan, and he has been linked with a winter move to Liverpool, who have been stuttering under new boss Roy Hodgson.
Meanwhile, in the build-up to the meeting between the top two teams in the league, Manchester United and Arsenal, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said he could have talismanic captain Cesc Fabregas back in time for the trip to Old Trafford. He will have to make do without the services of Kieran Gibbs, however, who hurt his ankle during the team’s Champions League victory over Partizan Belgrade in midweek. As for United, midfielder Paul Scholes is a doubt for the match, but Rio Ferdinand should be fit in time after suffering a tight hamstring during the club’s match against Valencia on Tuesday. Arsenal hold a slim one-point lead over United at the top of the table, but the Fergie’s men have one match in hand.