Senior Newcastle players have begun putting pressure on owner Mike Ashley over his mystifying refusal to offer Chris Hughton a new contract.
Hughton has spent the last fortnight deflecting questions over his future, as rumours circulated that Ashley wanted a more high-profile man in the dugout despite a fine start to the season.
Following the Magpies’ 5-1 demolition of local rivals Sunderland in Sunday’s derby, players are beginning to speak out in support of Hughton, according to The Telegraph.
“I find it quite surprising that we are talking about Chris and his job,” said club captain and derby hat-trick hero Kevin Nolan. “What he’s had to put up with over the last couple of weeks he’s dealt with magnificently.
“We feel, with the job he’s done, he deserves a fair crack at this league,” Nolan continued. “to be talking about trying to change it after 18 months and get another manager is just scandalous.”
Midfielder Joey Barton agreed, saying: “If it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it. The job he’s doing is fantastic. For there even to be an inkling of speculation over his future is ridiculous.”
Striker Shola Ameobi also chipped in after his two goals against Sunderland. “He needs to be give time to achieve what he wants to achieve here,” he said. “As players we’re fully behind him and we showed that.”
Shepherd return rubbished.
Newcastle United have moved to deny reports that former owner Freddie Shepherd was in the process of buying back the club, according to the Daily Mail.
The club released a statement which read: “Newcastle United have had no contact from anybody regarding a possible purchase and furthermore the club is not for sale.”
The statement follows a report by ESPN Soccernet yesterday that Shepherd was planning a takeover that would wipe out the club’s £90m debt and bring them into line with UEFA’s financial fair play rles which come into effect next season. ESPN quoted a ‘close friend’ of Shepherd’s as saying: “I know Freddy is giving very serious consideration to making an offer and returning to St James’ Park.”
Taylor makes comeback.
Magpies defender Steven Taylor is to make his comeback from injury in a reserve match this evening.
Taylor, 24, has been sidelined since January, first with a knee problem then with a shoulder injury sustained in a pre-season friendly. He was on the bench for the 5-1 derby win last Sunday and will start for the reserves against Wigan Athletic tonight.
“To prove my fitness, I just want to play as many games as possible now and I’m looking forward to playing against Wigan,” he told the club’s official website. “If I come through that as expected, I will hope to make the bench again at Arsenal next weekend and then look to try to force my way back into the starting line-up.”