Promotion talk forbidden at Newcastle United
THEY are eight points clear of third place with 13 games to play, but Chris Hughton says promotion has never even been mentioned at Newcastle United’s training ground.
The Magpies host Barnsley this afternoon clear favourites to win this season’s Championship and secure promotion to the Premier League. Even so, their manager claims the topic has never come up.
“It is down to the personalities in the team,” he explained. “Nobody really wants to get carried away. There’s a confidence in the group – there’s no doubt about that – but I haven’t overheard one conversation where people are talking about promotion and being in the Premier League next season.”
Hughton concedes on pure football his side is not the best in the league – that tag, he says, belongs to West Bromwich Albion – but their combination of flair and mental toughness has made them the most successful.
“What we’ve had this season to keep us where we are is a bit of everything,” he reflected. “There’s a fair bit of toughness in the team – we’re a side capable of grinding out a result – but also a decent amount of flair. There’s a lot of maturity in the team and we are able to win games in different ways. If we have to battle it out and produce a real dogged performance to get a result, we can do that.”
Many were expecting Newcastle to fail the test of character relegation provided to players used to plying their trade in the top flight. The doom-mongers were looking astute when United lost 6-1 at Leyton Orient in pre-season, and Hughton admits he was not sure at that stage if they would be proved right.
“The truth is that, at the start of the season, I didn’t really know what would happen,” Hughton admitted. “There were blips in pre-season, but I was never overly-concerned. I didn’t really know what would happen in the Championship, and the only way to find out was to play the first two or three games and see. From a fairly early stage, it became apparent we had enough character and quality to have a real good go.”