Such is the expectation on Tyneside that Chris Hughton’s future, despite his having met the remit of delivering promotion, is once more the subject of intense media speculation.
Yesterday, as bookmakers stopped taking bets on Hughton leaving the club before the end of the season, it appeared that Newcastle were once more going to fall into the anarchy that has typified Mike Ashley’s reign. A 4-0 Carling Cup loss to Arsenal, however disappointing, is far more indicative of the gulf in class that now exists between the two sides than it is of any critical failing of Hughton’s management. It is to their credit that in the aftermath of the defeat the Newcastle board acted to immediately quash the speculation surrounding Hughton: “It is our intention to renegotiate his contract at the end of the year.” And for the good of Northern football, one hopes that it is indeed their intention to do so, one they accomplish as speedily as possible. Hughton has proven himself to be a shrewd Premier League manager, capable of leading his side to victories both home and away. This show of support from the board can only benefit the former Tottenham coach, who has recently revealed how difficult he finds it to ignore the conjecture surrounding his role.
Finally, the bidding war between Russia and England for the 2018 World Cup has threatened to descend into farce, as Viacheslav Koloskov, adviser to the Russian bid, today launched a scathing attack upon the English bid: “It’s a comical situation.” said Koloskov, “The English are afraid of how badly their bid is going […] The behaviour of the English is absolutely primitive. Instead of talking about their own excellence and merits, they try to put off their opponents.” His comments are likely to draw the ire of the English bid team, who had formally complained about their rivals’ chief executive. With FIFA called in to mediate between the two factions, the tensions that blighted England’s relationship with Russia in the 20th Century are once more beginning to show. Considering the magnitude of the effect the World Cup would have upon the stumbling economy of each country, it is no surprise that the battle to be named as host is so intense. But to employ such playground tactics is infantile, and somewhat blights the harmonious intentions of the competition. From a purely footballing perspective, one hopes that the tournament itself does match the farcical nature of the bidding process.