Clarke set to become Hughton’s number two


STEVE CLARKE is set for a return to St James’ Park as Chris Hughton’s new right-hand man.

And in a clear indication that there is still life in Hughton’s reign at Newcastle, he was given a free hand by the United board to appoint his own No 2.

A difficult week for Hughton has been played out against the backdrop of rumblings and rumours about his future.

But before last night’s game at West Ham, the club moved to firmly play down any rumours about Hughton’s future.

That should be a boost for the Newcastle chief ahead of a critical week for Toon with games against Arsenal and Sunderland on the horizon.

He will approach those games boosted by the appointment of the highly-regarded Clarke, who was previously at the club under Ruud Gullit’s charge.

A popular figure who was a key lieutenant of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, he was at St James’ Park when Newcastle lost the Tyne-Wear derby to Sunderland in 1999.

That was the game that Gullit dropped Alan Shearer and Rob Lee for – a decision that Clarke opposed bitterly.

Meanwhile, Hughton has dismissed talk of his position being under threat.

“In all honesty, I don’t think about the speculation. The job that I have at Newcastle is big enough without worrying about that,” he said.

“It is demanding enough as a job to not think about what is being said outside of the football club.

“What I am keen to do is look at the positives.

“They are that in a season that we knew would be a tough season, we are one win away from being five or six positions better off than what we are.

“There are a group of teams that are in a similar position to us. We knew there would be tough periods this season and we have to get through them.

The Toon boss says that he will not allow the criticism to affect him – and points out that not long ago he was being praised to high heaven.

“If there are any criticisms I just look back at the periods where it’s been the opposite,” he said.

“If you’re a manager the key is not to get carried away when people are praising you, and not to let it affect you when you’re getting criticism.

“That is the best approach I feel.”

The normally serious Hughton even cracked a joke when told that Joe Kinnear had been mentioned as a possible replacement.

“I might get him in to do the Press!” he quipped.

This entry was posted by theboleyninheritance.

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