Boro are proof it’s not easy - Hughton
CHRIS Hughton believes the plight of Newcastle’s Tees-Tyne derby opponents Middlesbrough highlights how well the Magpies have done to lead the Championship.
Boro joined Newcastle in their tumble out of the top flight last season, but have struggled to adapt to their less prestigious surroundings and are currently trapped in mid-table, five points adrift of a play-off place.
Hughton is not the sort of person to gloat about anything, but he admitted Boro’s problems should serve to illustrate his side’s own achievements as they lead the league with a six-point cushion and a game in hand before this afternoon’s trip to the Riverside.
“What has happened to them shows how difficult it is,” said Hughton, who is hoping José Enríque will be able to start at left-back today.
“It is a very demanding and difficult league. And anyone going down has not got a given right to come straight back up.
“You have to have a team that has got to show enough of the qualities that you need in this division to do well. So far we have shown lots of that.”
Some have attempted to knock United’s feats this season by pointing to the fact they have retained an extravagant Premier League wage bill with top flight players thanks to owner Mike Ashley’s personal backing. But that suggestion irritated Hughton, who rightly pointed out that wage packets do not do anything to win football matches.
He said: “Is it the case that we should be where we are because of our wage bill? That is a train of thought for a lot of people.
“They say that with the squad we have got, that is where we should be. But there are a lot of very good clubs that have come down and have found it very difficult.
“At the end of the day it is not about the wage bill. We must not forget this is the team that got relegated last season. And, when you get relegated, there is no God-given right to be the best team in the lower division, as has been seen on numerous occasions in the past.”