Club Focus – Newcastle United – Players plea for Hughton to be given new contract

An air of celebration remains on Tyneside on the back of one of the Geordies’ greatest-ever derby victories. Newcastle’s resounding 5-1 victory over local rivals Sunderland has seen them rise to the heights of seventh in the league table on the back of consecutive wins. It has also allowed Magpies fans bragging rights in workplaces, pubs and schools across the north-east. Even a heavy defeat in their next game against Arsenal would struggle to dampen the mood around St James’ Park at the moment.

On the back of the derby success there have been further calls for manager Chris Hughton to be given a long-term contract as a reward for the progress he is making with the club. The players appear unequivocal in their support of their gaffer, with a number of them dedicating the win over Sunderland to their previously under-pressure boss. Both of the goal heroes from Sunday, Kevin Nolan and Shola Ameobi, praised Hughton in their post-match interviews. Ameobi, who became Newcastle’s joint second top scorer in derby matches, said: “In an ideal world you would like to think he would be given a new contract. All the stuff (written) has been nonsense. As players we’re fully behind him. When you read this stuff, the mind boggles. Chris has done such a good job. Hopefully we can put it to bed and a contract can be sorted out.”

In other news Hughton has admitted he was interested in signing Arsenal wonderkid Jack Wilshere last season. Newcastle were strongly linked with the 18 year old on a number of occasions last term as they looked for cheap ways to strengthen their promotion-chasing team. In the end they lost out to Bolton in January but could come face-to-face with Wilshere at the weekend. When asked about his interest in signing the Arsenal prodigy Hughton replied: “I think everybody was, [Arsenal] have an abundance of talent.”

Defender Steven Taylor could come into contention at the weekend after playing an hour for the reserves on Tuesday. Taylor was an unused substitute against Sunderland but will now provide competition for the centre back positions. The reserves went down 2-1 to their Wigan counterparts as manager Peter Beardsley saw his side’s unbeaten record come to an end. Beardsley along with his assistant Steve Stone have both found themselves linked to the vacant position of being Hughton’s new number two. Hughton is thought to be keen to bring in an assistant from outside the club while the board want to promote from within.

The club were forced to issue a statement on Monday to reject rumours that former chairman Freddy Shepherd was poised to make an offer to Mike Ashley. The rumours appear unfounded with both parties denying there was any truth to the story. A club statement read: “There has been unfounded speculation today suggesting that Freddy Shepherd intends to put a consortium together in a bid to buy Newcastle United FC from its owner, Mike Ashley. The club can confirm that it has not received any contact from Freddy Shepherd expressing an interest in buying the club, nor is the club for sale.”

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