Chris Hughton’s sacking seems like an awfully long time ago now. Newcastle fans were devastated and opposition fans were perplexed. It was a move that just didn’t appear to make any sense. During his brief reign at the club Hughton had done a stand-up job and deserved better treatment. When I ask if Ashley was right to sack Hughton, I don’t mean was he right in the moral sense, because Chris had done nothing to merit his dismissal. But surely it is worth considering that it may actually have been the best move for the club?
Many Newcastle fans were flabbergasted with Alan Pardew’s appointment and saw him as something of a step-down in class. He has turned out to be anything but. Discounting the second-half of last season where he seemed to be biding his time until the summer, he’s had an excellent start to his Newcastle tenure.
I remember fans at the time claiming that Pardew couldn’t match Hughton in terms of man management, but it strikes me that Pardew’s getting the most he possibly can out of each and every one of his players right now. Furthermore, I can’t help but feel that Pardew is tactically more astute that Hughton too. Not such a step-down after all.
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Hughton had managed to obtain the backing of both players and fans, something of a rare occurrence on Tyneside and deserved more of a chance to show what he could do. Mike Ashley’s decision to send him packing could well have triggered a mutiny in the dressing room and potentially another relegation for the club. It was simply awful timing.
Luckily Pardew proved to be a better manager than most people thought and over the course of his ten months in charge he has more than proven that he knows how to galvanise a dressing room. It’s not like Pardew has had an easy ride. He has overseen some high profile departures that led fans to question the future of the team.
Instead, Newcastle has only grown stronger and Pardew deserves a healthy share of the credit for how the club has improved. Given his professionalism and ability, is there anybody out there who really believes that Hughton is the better manager?
Still, that doesn’t make the decision to sack Chris any more right. Strange though that what first appeared to be a moment of madness may end up being one of the best decisions of Ashley’s career.
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