Chris Hughton Another Perspective

Chris Quinn writes for us from time to time and here is another article, this time he looks at the appointment of our new manager but with a different perspective. Although I personally don’t agree with everything Chris says, he does make some valid points and there are some people I have spoken to who would agree with him. Do you?

So, we have our man. Christopher William Gerard Hughton has been appointed Birmingham City manager, reportedly beating Roberto Di Matteo to the post.

The general reaction to the 52 year-olds appointment has been that of elation from the fans. He seems to have been the resounding choice to succeed Alex McLeish, but really, what competition has he had to face?

Billy Davies, along with Dave Jones, have both been given rafts of cash by Forest and Cardiff respectively and both have failed to deliver promotion – something the board have stated needs to happen immediately.

Alan Curbishley, despite being a former player, has been out of the game for too long now since restricting himself to Premier League jobs only. Gianfranco Zola was mentioned fleetingly, but it seems Massimo Moratti and Inter Milan are fluttering their European-heavyweight eyelashes in his direction. (No, I don’t know why either).

But as we know, relegation has taken its toll on our finances and it is safe to say we are skint, meaning we can’t afford to pay compensation for a manager. This left us with two choices; Di Matteo or Hughton.

Di Matteo would not have worked for the simple reason that the club structure at Blues isn’t right for him. At West Bromwich Albion, he had a Sporting Technical Director (similar to a Director of Football) called Dan Ashworth and Di Matteo relied heavily on him with regards to player recruitment and how the club was run.

So that left Hughton as our only option. Not a bad option to have, but not the most exciting either.

Immediately, people point to the job he did at Newcastle United. Fair play to him, he got them promoted, but let’s be honest, in the style of Harry Redknapp: “My missus could have done that”.

Yes, they were a sinking ship, but what do you expect when you employ a drone from Match of the Day to try and save you from relegation? They lost 6-1 in a friendly to Leyton Orient and were roundly laughed at. But who do you think steadied that ship? Mild-mannered Chris Hughton or embarrassed professionals like Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan?
That Newcastle team contained a left-back pocketing around £55k each week, the two aforementioned centre-midfielders who were seeing the best part of £60k p/w and a striker who has since been sold for £35m. It would have been near impossible for them not to win the league.

This job is a lot harder than the task he was given at Newcastle, so forgive me if I’m not feeling as optimistic as everyone else seems to be.

I’d have preferred Blues to have taken a gamble on someone and given them the chance to build a legacy at the club. For too long now we’ve watched the boring football and lived in hope, before ultimately being shot down.

Bruce built us a team that was tight at the back, McLeish took that to a new level, is Hughton going to look to get the ball down and play it? I guess we’ll see as the first ball is lumped up to our makeshift Andy Carroll.

My preference would have been someone like Lee Clark at Huddersfield. A young, hungry manager who likes to play good football, I think we deserve to see some passes knocked about down St. Andrew’s for once. Clark has blooded youngsters as well whilst at The Galpharm Stadium and also seems to have an eye for a player. Their players talk of him in glowing terms and they finished the league campaign with a 27-game unbeaten run.

Clark seems keen to move up the ladder and I felt Blues could have been the place for him to build a dynasty.

So, whilst I don’t believe Hughton is a poor appointment, I don’t think he is as an amazing appointment as I’ve seen people say.

The fact that the board have reportedly only given him a 12-month rolling contract also says to me that they see him more of a stop-gap appointment and gives them a get-out clause if we don’t go up; which I would think is the objective for Hughton.

Yes, it could have been a lot worse for Blues, but I feel underwhelmed and cautious (like one of his team talks?)

I really do hope he proves me wrong and we go back up straight away, but at the minute, I’d be happy to finish in the play-offs.

Chris Quinn

Discuss this post, and other items, in the Joys and Sorrows Forum.


34 Comments on Chris Hughton Another Perspective

  1. unnecessarily negative in my opinion.
    not once have you mentioned the style of footbal that hughton plays or the fact that the newcastle players STILL speak in glowing terms about the guy.
    always one though.

  2. One mans opinion, not a bad one and well stated but still only one man’s opinion and we are all entitled to those. The main point here is that we have a new manager, in a new division, playing (I would imagine) a new style of football ( for us) with a new team. Two contants, BCFC and us Bluenoses, so whatever we think or believe now is the time to get behind our new manager and hope the board support him as well as I hope us Bluenoses do. KRO

  3. It’s always interesting to read a counter argument to the general feeling of good will being shown towards Hughton. Newcastle retained a lot of their best players and now it’s for the Blues Board to show similar intent by keeping most of our best players.
    Apart from Neil Moxley of the Daily Mail (see his twitter time line) I have not read a bad word about Hughton even players like Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand and Joey Barton have said what a good man he is.
    Chris is right this could be a difficult season for us and therefore even more reason for the fans to get right behind the new manager and the team.

  4. To be fair though, Lee Clark’s Huddersfield have lost in the play offs 3 years running.

    It’s harsh to judge Hughton on the strength of Newcastle’s squad. He could hardly have done a better job, 102 points and 90 goals in his first season in full management. Unbeaten at home all season, promoted in record time, but more than that, looking solid in the premier league after promotion, so not a one season wonder.

    Yes they had great players, but the season or two before, those players had not been performing, under Hughton they did. He has has experience managing youth teams, coaching premier league teams and managing a big club going for promotion. He is respected in the game and will earn Blues a bit of respect they seem to lose under Mcleish.

    I dislike the short termism of the last few years and we do need to build a stronger base, from academy to stadium to general structure of the club, but we are in a very precarious situation at the moment and we need someone to steady our ship. Hughton deserves the chance to show he is the man to do that.

  5. I think at blues as much as we have endured some slightly negative football, I know this is because Mcleish was doing what he could with a reasonable squad, lock the top 8 clubs out, and have a go at HOME occasionally against the weaker ones.
    The problem was, 4-5-1 kindof worked against the top 4, because they were used to getting their own way. The other clubs mixed it with us, and often got the upper hand, especially the ones willing to have a go and work harder than our cup winners.
    I think our defensive record was complimented by some excellent shot stoppers over the years, including Taylor, Hart and Foster. If you look at the statistics, the fact Foster had to make the most saves out of any other team in the premiership, says… did our defensive partnerships really play their part? If it wasnt for the core england keepers we have had in our goals for the last 2 seasons things could have been very different.
    On that basis, I would like to slam Alex, for not recognising this, and not having a little bit more confidence in our teams ability to have scored goals.
    When we needed to score a goal in reply we often did, coming from behind, how different it could have been defending 1-0 leads, as in the Bruce days (playing for something worthwhile) than slogging your guts out for a draw 0-0 and often conceeding. There is no need to shut up shop until you have a goal or two IMO. Alex took negativity to a new level and alienated the fans and therefore the 12th Man.
    Roll on Chris, I think he positive attitude towards games is amazing, 6-0 against Villa we only dream of, and when you talk about Carrol and the others, the reason they stayed at newcastle was because NO ONE WANTED THEM. It was Chris who Controlled probably the most misbehaved squad in the league ever, and installed discipline, and respect. Hence Newcastles RECORD breaking return to the premiership. That is no mean feat, something blues as champions never managed even with a god given right considering the squad we retained in the past.
    This is a huge boost for blues, and exactly what we needed… CONFIDENCE!
    The fans needed a change and I thank Villa for triggering it. Cheers

  6. Hi lads, responses not been too bad/angry so far! Saw one bloke mention the style of play Hughton employs. As much as I would love us to start playing short, sharp passes, I’m unsure he will try and implement that here. He has already spoken of his desire for “attacking, but effective” football. So why we may find ourselves attacking a bit more, the use of effective tells me he isn’t adverse to lumping the ball into the box – as Newcastle often did with Carroll up top.

    Also. With regards to players not having a bad word to say about him, that’s because he’s a nice guy. I also think he could be a bit too nice. Can you imagine his team-talk if we were 0-1 down at home to Doncaster? I think, as a player, it would be hard to find him inspiring.

    I’m not trying to be ‘the one’ who moans all the time, in fact I’m usually the most optimistic you’ll find, however I am erring on the side of caution with this appointment so far. I would love nothing more than for Hughton to prove me wrong, but as it stands, I’d take a play-off berth now and be happy with it. Just a warning.

  7. An extremely insightful analysis.

    We all wish Chris Hughton well, we all hope that he can deliver success but i can’t help but agree with this article that an opportunity to found a dynasty has been passed up in the somewhat vain hope that Hughton can repeat his feat of achieving a quick promotion back into the Premier League.

    I don’t want to spend the next 40 yrs in the same way I have spent the last 40 years and that is watching successive Blues teams and managers scrap around at the bottom of the Premier League for a season or two before being relegated.

    The truth is that Carson Yeung needs Premier League football desperately whereas BCFC need to rebuild on more solid foundations. Birmingham City need a new ethos and a new philosophy; something that would stand in stark contrast to our history which is little more than make-do-and-mend.

  8. “Can you imagine his team-talk if we were 0-1 down at home to Doncaster? I think, as a player, it would be hard to find him inspiring.”

    The thing is Chris, you’re not a player – you have absolutely no idea what he is like in the changing room, on the training field or anywhere else for that matter. You see a mild mannered gent and use it against him – I’m sure if someone else who was more abrupt and in your face (Davies) you’d be saying the exact opposite.

    I follow you on Twitter fella, and your negativity is unbelievable. Five minutes after announcing Hughton as manager you were having a moan – what exactly do you think that achieves?

  9. I agree with Chris generally and have said similar things inc Clark and also O’Driscoll who’s done a great job at Donny on a shoestring.
    I also think Curbs would have done a good job with what he did at Charlton then keeping WHU up when players were being sold without him knowing.
    Clark hasn’t had the resources Hughton will probably get , but he in turn probably won’t get what he had at Newcastle, so it’s hard to compare these different clubs and managers.
    That’s why so many don’t perform like they have at previous clubs which got them noticed.
    It’s a gamble who ever we took on.
    I don’t think Davies had that much money though, he built two clubs and teams one promoted then only 10 mill to keep them up and then forest in two play-offs after just coming up from league one.

    it’s not negative to have another opinion on a situation as it stands TODAY, but that opinion is fluid as it will probably change weekly over the next two months for many of us.
    I do feel some fans are slightly over the top in praising Hughton, but i also understand they are excited. me i’m more reserved, but will support him now he is here, i’m more worried about the board now and what their plans are.
    We are stating opinons on what we know via the press, but we don’t know what is happening within the club, but we will by the end of August.
    I do agree we need to change the style we play, but carefully and gradually because so many teams who come down struggle because there is too much upheaval and change too quickly.
    Time will tell, Good Luck Chris Hughton

  10. Hughton isn’t my first choice but he will get us promoted. I do think Hughton will find it tougher though because the expectation will be a lot higher than it was at Newcastle purely because were in the Europa League. However if Blues keep the squad together and it looks as if most players will be staying then he’ll have it as easy as he had it at Newcastle probably easier to be fair. I hope Hughton sticks to what he says he’s going to do which is to ‘garner youth’ but today he’s being linked with Guthrie a player who would add nothing to the squad and just stall the development of Jordan Muth.
    Stay away from the Newcastle squad Hughton. The few players who would improve the Blues squad won’t be for sale anyway.

  11. In Chris’s defence if you scroll down his twitter feed you’ll easilly see that negativity is a rarity

  12. @DDUBYA

    If you follow me then you’ll have seen how positive I was throughout the whole of last season! (Cheers Azzagatecrasher) With regards to Blues, I’m hardly ever negative, but this just got me down for the reasons mentioned. Coupled with that the fact that everyone else seemed to be delighted with it, I felt it appropriate to issue a warning and lower some people’s over-zealous expectations.

    Fair enough, I’m not a player, but we can all imagine what a manager is like in the dressing-room. Maybe I jumped the gun a bit and he may well throw some teacups about – time will tell.

  13. Its not the same, but I’ve worked with managers that I think are pricks and its got me down, but I’ve also worked with managers that are ‘nice guys’ and as a result my commitment and work ethic would be the highest.

    If you like and respect your manager you will cross that line and do them proud, which is what the Newcastle players did. You don’t need to shout and scream to make yourself heard.

  14. I’m hopeful he’ll be good and optimistic that the style of play will improve but also am a bit confused by the massive enthusiasm for him.

    Having only had one managerial job before, he did reasonably well, but as the article mentions – he had one of the best squads in the league already, it was more a matter of forging them into a unit.

    My impression of him is that he is more a no.2, a quieter guy that will not immediately inspire players he doesn’t know. It worked for him well at Newcastle as he’d got to know and earn the respect of the players as no.2 there, the transition to manager then wasn’t as difficult. Whether he can do that straight away at Blues is another thing. I’m still not sure why they got rid of him at Newcastle – seems it was something behind the scenes – maybe it was these kind of doubts?I think the one-year rolling contract is good for both sides in this respect.

    Anyway, I hope I’m wrong and wish him all the best – it’s going to be an interesting summer now as he re-builds his own squad. Hopefully we can get some good young loans in – maybe the lad McEachran from Chelsea – apparently he’s like Wilshere

  15. It’s irrelevant. The time for talking and what-iffing is over. Yes, Chris Hughton faces a difficult challenge, but I for one believe he’s up to it. Club, manager players, and above all, us bluenoses need to unite, move forward, and KRO!

  16. Sorry Chris, but this is utter drivel!
    Just because the man comes over as a mild man on the tv that doesn’t mean he can’t inspire the players. Just watch his press conference after Newcastles defeat to W.B.A! That shows he can get angry when needed!
    Why do you think people have to be loud or brash in order to inspire people anyway?? Bobby Robson did well enough by being a “nice bloke”. There are plenty of other examples of managers of this type being motivational too.
    I think whoever came in as manager was in for a difficult job due to the financial restraints at the club.
    He may have had the best team in the league, but that isn’t any sort of guarantee. Just ask the Leeds fans.
    For me, if Chris Hughton can motivate the likes of Barton & Gutierez to put in 100% while playing away to Barnsley and the likes, then he should have no problem in getting our bunch up & going!

  17. I am 100% behind Chris Hughton and wish him all the best from all of us.

    The word is that he is a great coach and that is a good start, so the next big question for me is: who will form his back-room staff? If I have a minor reservation, it is about his ability to manage all aspects of the playing side, including the youth development, which comes back to the original poster’s point on building a dynasty. It is only a reservation as I don’t know what his abilities are, nor do I know what his brief is and so I’m more than happy to wait and see. If he can hold on to anyone amongst the existing back-room team, then I hope it’s Dave Watson; given his work with Hart and Foster, I’d be more worried about his defection to the Vile than anyone else, including Big Eck.

    Finally, I’m a little confused by the comments on the 1 year rolling contract and I’m not sure we should read too much into that. Depending on the terms, it could be that it is effectively a contract that is perpetually for a one year term and, in effect, simply allows Hughton to have the security of another year’s money if he is ever sacked?

  18. The question is not if Houghton is good enough, The messure of success for the coming campaign will be the number of players Blues will keep. if we are to believe the media, then everyone of our best players will be departing for close on £50 + million quid. Foster £10m, Dann £12m, Johnson £10m, Ridgewell £4m, Gardener £6m, jerome £8m.
    it is simple if the board say no sales we will go up because the quality is there, if they sell and don’t give the majority of the money to the manager, its simple, we will go down again.
    it is beyond me to think why they say there is no money. the parachute payment, the release of 12 players already and the salary reductions built into most of the players contracts let alone a money spinning Europa spot means money should be there.
    if the Board take the penny pinching view, then forget the performance of Houghton, not even the great Sir Alex could pull that one off

  19. I think the enthusiasm for Hughton is mostly due to his not being Alex McLeish. As said above the key thing will be the players who line up on August 6th and those still there on 1st September.

  20. Chris Quinn I do not understand how last Year you said you were positive and the appointment of a New Manager makes you disappointed… You must only have been to the Wembley game last year, because I went to almost every home game, all of the cup games home and away + Wembley, and apart from a couple of cup games (Vile and West Ham Home) I could have hung myself watching Eck kill the game of football.

    Anyone following Flipping Eck into the managers job at StAns , could make the game of Football more entertaining.

    Welcome Chris Hughton! All I ask for is a hard working team that scores lots of goals. (it helps keeps me warm in the Gill Merrick stand)


  21. I’ve just seen an on-going poll in the North East Gazzette, I’m assuming mostly Newcastle fans responding. Will Hughton be a success at Birmingham, up to now 84% say yes. Seems like the Geordies have faith in him being good for us, and they know the man.

  22. @Spud cc @Chris Quinn

    Absolutely agree!

    A good blog post provides a balance, and this one has toppled over to complete and utter negativity

  23. As for the 1 year rolling contract…. Eck had one of those to start off with but it was only when we gave him a proper contract he decided it didn’t count for anything and left….. so 1 year rolling seems good enough and reduces the disapointment when they do not honour it anyway.


  24. I think Chris is a top top bloke, and I didnt want to see him sacked at newcastle.

    Having watched our Championship campaign the reason newcastle got promoted was equally due to the fact that the Championship was woeful the year we were down. Apart from west brom and the odd battle, most teams were overwhelmed by SJP and playing against the big names and they were dreadful.

    Before even reading this article I was very much of the opinion that it was more the senior pros that got NUFc back up rather than Chris. They contributed to his downfall when it was accused they were running the team and now tehy are being sold off one by one, prtly because ashley is stripping the club of high earners, but also I imagine that Alan Pardew doesnt want Chris Hughtons team, Kevin Nolans team or whoever. He wants Pardews team (not that all of NUFC are in favor). That says to me that maybe they do have abit much to say and was Chris Hughton nothing more than just ‘nice guy chris’. The morale was brilliant, but was that just because it was a good group of lads and he let them do what they want?

    Having said that, I wish Brum god luck getting back up, would much rather play them next year than bolton or stoke!

  25. Re: Hughton’s ‘rolling contract’ I think some of our fans have taken that too literally. It is just business terminology and the contract is not actually ‘rolling’. It is just a year [12 months] long contract that can be activated for longer during a review stage [probably this time next year]. When Mr. Hughton wakes that is not the beginning of a new contract it is the same contract that he signed on Wednesday 22nd June 2011. The club may as well have given him a 2 year deal otherwise. If Blues wanted to cancel the contract before the review period then we would have to pay compensation but if we were to cancel it 12 months from the agreed start date of the contract then we would not have to pay anything.

  26. So, our only Newcastle poster has also said it was down to the players, and not Hughton…

    @WillG – I’ve had a season ticket for over 10 years now, just for the record.

    @Spud – There are always likely to be exceptions to the rule. I don’t necessarily think brash managers do inspire players, but someone who shows a lot of passion and knows what they’re talking about may well do. Hughton could well prove to be this man, but on first glance, you have to admit that he doesn’t come across like that. I would love him to prove me wrong.

    @AylesburyBlue – A brief, but very valid point.

    @Matt – I think you’re spot on mate. He only had to choose them and get them out on the pitch. he done well to steady the ship there and get the players gelling a bit better, but it was hardly the most strenuous of tasks…

    With regards to the rolling contract, I think that it is there to secure Blues in case he isn’t performing by Christmas time and we need to swap manager. Would we want to pay off a two-and-a-half year contract? However, I hope this acts as a spur for Hughton to earn a new deal.

  27. I’ve also just had a new thought.

    Did Hughton sign Tiote for Newcastle? Think he did.

    If he can pull off a few more gems like that then he’ll have me convinced in no time. KRO.

  28. I think Chris has echoed my feelings on the appointment too, which is by no means disappointment, but just a lot more reserved than the consensus. I didn’t interpret Chris’s comments as negative, simply that they contrast with the exaggerated elation of the majority. If anything, a reality check to restore the balance, because no matter who came in, this season is sure to be tough one for us, which some have seemed to overlook. Tough, but that does not mean we’re not optimistic.

    The board had already stated they expect a return to the top flight at the first time of asking and for me, the fact Hughton has already achieved this just adds to the pressure, as people will try to draw similarities. Whereas in my opinion, it will pan out quite differently as the board don’t seem enthusiastic about keeping the squad together, unlike at Newcastle, a HUGE factor in Hughton’s success. Let’s just hope the optimism gets into the players as much as the fans so the core actually stays (although that’s probably more an issue with the board than anything it seems). A good squad is surely more important than any manager…
    Fully agree with @Aylesburyblue too. The fans’ mutual disdain for McLeish has bred love for Chris Hughton, especially as he’s such a “nice guy” (which has little bearing on doing a good or bad job in my opinion). The King is dead; long live the King and all that.

    My main concern with the euphoria is that if we lose a few players, go through a losing spell, or fail to excite the fans for a few games, will this turn into the likes of chanting “4-4-2” again? We don’t want to end up as fickle as the Villa… I for one still looked forward to our games under McLeish, admittedly got a little frustrated at times, but that’s being a football fan, right? Admittedly I liked our resolve and ‘bodies on the line’ attitude, but perhaps just not all the time… Ok, we didn’t play great at home to Everton, but being booed off the pitch after a year unbeaten at home is ludicrous! So let’s hope there’s less of that nonsense and we get a few full houses this season too…

    All in all, I think realistically we should be happy with the Play-Offs and yeah, I’d probably take it now, but hell, let’s gun for the title for once!!! Of course I’ll give 100% backing to Hughton, just let’s not get carried away… But as always, Keep Right On!

  29. I agree that we shouldn’t get over excited about Hughton, however, after seeing some of big Ecks decisions during last season (eg. losing 2-0 at home so he decides to bring on another defender) let’s give the guy a chance and back him all the way.

  30. Chris, if you have had a season ticket for 10 years you must have been on anti depression pills for you to feel optimistic last year! The only difference from the year before is McCleish went even more negative in 2010/11 than he did in 2009/10 season when he dropped a centre forward and played 4-5-1 for longer. (less goals)

    I read a good article that made me laugh… about Eck being an undercover agent for Villa since 2007 very funny, worth a read.

  31. For me the best chance if us getting promoted has more to do with how much we can pack Stans than anything. The problem with Eck was that due to his negative football the crowds dwindled and the atmosphere there was dire for the last 2 years. At times it was like a ghost stadium. It hasn’t been loud in there since Francis left.
    By the way, I spent 2 years living in Newcastle recently and regularly went to their home games. So I know a little about Hughton & how he sets his teams up.
    Hughton may have been chosen by Pannu as he was the cheap option, I don’t know and never will. One thing I do know tho, is that I will be there against Coventry singing his name & getting right behind him! As we all should!

  32. Spud – I’ll be joining you at Coventry to sing his name and cheer the boys on, no doubt.

    WillG – Do you not think injuries forced Judas to play that system a lot of the time? Zigic’s chronic injury record meant he was unable to play a lot of games, Phillips is too old for a whole season & Derbyshire evidently wasn’t showing enough in training. He didn’t pack the midfield a lot though. he tried to play Hleb in behind and give us an outlet, but that was a move that was also hampered by injuries.

    Dan Cockerill – I agree with this in its entirety.

  33. McCleish chose the players, he bought most of them, he chose the Tictac’s. He is negative even when we had the likes of Zarate he stuck him on the bench. We had to Chant 4-4-2 at the Bolton game two seasons ago to get him to change the side…… He likes playing Nagative Football. And I hope he he continues in the same vain at the Vile. Dull and Negative and shocking Tictacs.

    Good Luck Chrissy Hughton… I do hope you succeed, so we get to play Mr Negative at the 4 sheds.

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