No Duncan Ferguson-style door damage at Newcastle this week

By Lee Ryder on Sep 16, 10 04:45 PM

You have to feel a bit for Chris Hughton this week don't you?

The Toon boss has done a magnificent job since taking over as full-time gaffer - well some might call it miracle working given the circumstances he was handed the reins in - but it doesn't take long for the rollercoaster to get revved up on Tyneside.

Then he loses one game, unluckily, against Blackpool and all of a sudden we're all trying to pick his team for him!

I see that as no bad thing and part of the Geordie fibre in these parts, with football debate part of everyday life - unlike other soul-less outposts around the UK.

I think Kevin Keegan once joked he had 36,000 managers (referring to the crowd) who would pick a different team to him.

Yes, even Hughton knows that goes with the territory on Tyneside but his "simple" task ahead of the trip to Everton is to either stick or twist with his team selection.

He had no choice but to do that at whining Wolves after the 6-0 win over Aston Villa, and he was fully justified in doing it again after the battling draw at Molineux.

This week we've heard the calls for a change in the wide men and the clamour to see Hatem Ben Arfa start the game.

Many are also interested to see just what Cheik Tiote can bring to the Toon engine room.

In the past Hughton has always kept faith with his key men, and Alan Smith had started the season well enough before Blackpool.

Anyway, what has all of this got to do with Duncan Ferguson?

Well if you cast your mind back to the Tyne-Wear derby of 1999, Gullit's last game.

The Dutchman - who now talks a good game on Sky - infamously dropped both Big Dunc and Alan Shearer in the 2-1 defeat.

The next day Ferguson's fury was evident after he kicked Gullit's door down at the training ground.

Shearer, tactfully, went in afterwards to compound Gullit's misery and the rest as they say is history.

Of course, that hasn't been the case at United's Benton base this week with Hughton creating a rare thing on Tyneside - dressing room harmony.

Nevertheless, at some stage we have to expect Ben Arfa to be unleashed along with Tiote, Sol Campbell and those chipping away on the fringe such as Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi and Nile Ranger.

Hughton has certainly got the competition for places he wanted!

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Stevie in Iraq said:

Competition for places is the perfect problem for Chris Hughton to have Lee. "One swallow does not a summer make" and that goes for both the Villa and Blackpool matches. The team spirit combined with healthy competition will see us win more than we will lose this season I am sure. Looking forward to having the experience of Sol Campbell at the back, and I think the Everton match will be the perfect introduction for him as his experience will steady the horses after that dodgy result last week.
Still think Chris will start with Routledge and Jonas at the weekend, but expect to see Ben Arfa and Tiote on for Smudge and one of the above for the last 30 mins. Don't think Chris will opt for Lovenkrands alongside Carroll as he will no doubt play a more solid 4-4-1-1 formation away from home and I suspect Nolan will be fizzing for this one as will Joey. It will be a tight, hard fought contest but i think we can come away with at least a point against a spirited but limited Everton side.

DormAnt said:

Lee, I agree Chris has done a magnificent job at SJP since he took over the reins under almost impossible constraints. I doubt anyone could have bettered his managerial performance last year given the same set of circumstances.
However, with regard to the Blackpool match what concerns most fans is the apparent lack of willingness by Chris to change the personnel, the shape of the team and the tactics in time to rescue something from a game that was so obviously drifting away from us.
True, he put out on the field what he thought was his best side, and before the match started it was his best side. That said,too many of his best side under performed on the day and he should have made radical changes, and made them much sooner than he did. Not to do so was to simply accept that luck, good or bad, would determine the outcome of the game.
I do not for the life of me believe that he has bought Ben Arfa and Tiote just as squad players. I would hope he has bought them to be the future of NUFC to replace those who brought us success in the championship, but as he well knows, are sadly not up to the standard of the premier league.
I happen to think Everton are a far better team than Blackpool (no disrespect intended) but if he sticks with exactly the same team that he put out last week I think we will suffer for it. We were far too pedestrian and predictable at times in our last outing, and if Ian Holloway can suss us out, I have no doubt David Moyes can and will as well.
I would advocate changes for this week, not just for the sake of change though, but because it is a necessity.
With the right approach I believe we are capable of getting something out of the Everton game, but it will be a very, very hard earned point if we get one.
Hope springs eternal.

relton said:

There is a slight worry in my mind - and it has been nagging me since the end of last season.
Granted Hughton took us up in style and with great ease - however - we failed to beat our nearest Championship rivals (WBA) over three meetings and also lost to Blackpool away. Holloway has had us over twice - with a very thin squad - and I am worried that the rest of the Premiership can now sense blood.
Now lies CH test. everyone can smell blood - and we simply HAVE to come back against Everton with minimum 1 pt, ideally - a backlash and shock three pointer.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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