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Alan Shearer’s comments that he thought he had the Newcastle job before it was given to Chris Hughton should not be taken out of context. Shearer also goes on to give Hughton a lot of credit for the way he brought Newcastle back into the Premier League, and for a Newcastle fan, has a fairly pragmatic view on Ashley:
“You have got to look at the guy and think, ‘Hang on a minute, he has put a hell of a lot of money into Newcastle United, so he is entitled to do what he wants to do’.
If you are spending £150m, £200m, £250m on something, then you are going to want to call the shots and he is doing that.
I don’t know whether he wants to spend any more money, I don’t know if he wants to take the club further or what.”
“He has done a magnificent job. He is a really, really nice guy and was a big help to me when I went in there.
I have got to be honest, I didn’t think Newcastle would come back up at the first attempt with the team they had.
They had some very good players in there, but the vast majority were the players who took them down, and you have got to give Chris tremendous credit for that.
He steadied the ship and, without doubt, he deserves a crack at the big league now.”
It seems unlikely that Shearer could have done better than Hughton – you can’t do better than winning the league you’re in – especially if he thought that the existing squad weren’t good enough to come back up. Ashley made a fairly smart decision to promote from within and asking Hughton to work with available resources instead of throwing money at a problem that wasn’t fixable with money.
Newcastle may still struggle, but they have a more united team than two years ago, a manager who has the respect of his players and an owner who’s come around to understanding that owning a club doesn’t mean you can become a celebrity fan. Here’s hoping that Newcastle stick around in the top flight for a long time to come.