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Why Chris Hughton Should Be the Next West Ham United Manager

Photo by blenky64

Underneath the club crest by the tunnel at Upton Park reads: “The Academy of Football”. After all, in recent years they have produced some fantastic British talent. Rio and Anton Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe and even John Terry spent time with the club in his youth.

The current generation may not be displaying the same level of potential, but it’s argued they could perform in England’s second tier. Scott Parker is likely to depart meaning Mark Noble may inherit the captaincy should he stay with James Tomkins and Saturday’s full debutant Jordan Spence filling out the back line.

Examining the squad further shows more of a British core emerging with Freddie Sears, Gary O’Neil, Zavon Hines, Junior Stanislas and Welsh pair Jack Collison and Danny Gabbidon all likely to be important players next year.

With owners in poor financial health, supporting the high wage earners is simply not conceivable. That would in theory force an exodus meaning holes will need to be filled. In a slightly baffling move prior to relegation, Gold and Sullivan openly stated they will not stand in the way of the club’s England internationals, meaning Robert Green is likely to move.

His back up little known Belgian stopper Ruud Boffin who made his Premier League debut this season. From research online, the name Sebastian Lletget is one that crops up with regularity and one US fans may want to watch. Scouted through a satellite club he represents West Ham’s constant desire to unearth the next generation of talent.

Of course the Internet is full of pages claiming that their club has the next star biding his time in the reserve ranks. Players like Anthony Edgar also seem to have a bright future was well as a man I recently had the pleasure of watching take on England U21’s with good success, Icelandic centre back: Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson.

It would be naive to say relegation is a good thing. It cripples you financially and teams often spend their first season playing the dangerous game of keeping on high earners in the hope of bouncing back up. Many have claimed this was the mantra Mike Ashley adopted. The keen gambler deciding to keep some of his stars on the basis they would get back into the top flight and make his asset more appealing to potential buyers.

Unfortunately as I mentioned Mr Gold and Mr Sullivan lack the financial ability to do this. By their own startling admission they’ve already sunk the majority of their fortunes into the club. So if things are to be done on a stringent budget you can see why Chris Hughton’s name adorns the newspapers as a potential manager.

Many noted he operated with a fairly small squad and despite signing nine players in his first season that was offset by the departure of nine first team players from the period between relegation and the new season.

Of course the other aspect of Hughton’s appeal is the unity with which he bonded Newcastle’s downbeat squad. Joey Barton’s dedication of the home victory to Liverpool days after the former Tottenham assistants departure speaks volumes of how much his players trusted and believed him.

As for West Ham’s fans, the advantage of Hughton is not only the Championship winners medal he possesses but his demeanor off the pitch and general ‘nice guy qualities’. The hierarchy at Newcastle hasn’t always been as normal and pristine as many fans would hope but regardless Hughton maintained a professional and respectable manner even after the day he left.

It may seem a bold claim to make but much of Newcastle’s success in the last 18 months goes to the calming influence of the former manager. Stability allowed for unity which in turn gave the players the chance to reach their potential and perform as expected.

I’m sure some would argue this mirrors the predicament West Ham find themselves in. Poor man management and a squad that shouldn’t really be propping up the Premier League table. By contrast, if true, financial frugality is the order of the day as former West Ham player Kevin Keen may be given the job having so openly expressed his desire to undertake the role.

Without wanting to sound too much like his booking agent it should be remembered however that Hughton was in fact the lowest paid managers in the Premier League. So while to some there may seem a wealth of options available, in my opinion there is but only one.

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  1. Rob McCluskey

    May 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I don’t understand people saying he’s not that good a manager. He got a totally unmotivated and lazy Newcastle promoted in his first season as a manager, getting over 100 points in the league. He then guided that team to mid table on what was a somewhat tight budget and without his marquee signing Ben Arfa. Sunderland came to town as the proclaimed “best team in the North East” and got thumped 5-1 by his side.

    Hughton is a former player and someone that knows what it’s like to take a team with broken confidence and motivate them.

    There’s nothing wrong with Hughton seeming a “nice guy”. That in actual fact makes him more respected and gains him love from the fans. You never see what he’s like behind the media glare, so how can you judge him based on the fact he’s a well spoken character?

    He’s the most logical choice I believe, as being a former player, he’d really relish the role and wouldn’t bring the risk that having O’Neill would (if they could realistically attract O’Neill). He’s a bit of a defensive manager that brings strong discipline to the side. I’d say his only downfall is that he sometimes is afraid to open up and attack when the team is losing. But that being said, he’s only had 1 and a half years managing, he can learn with more experience.

  2. Jeffrey

    May 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    The owners might not be able to afford Martin O’Neill. I think Chris Hughton would be a good appointment as he is a good manager and spent a whole season in the Championship with Newcastle so he knows the league well and was there very recently. Of course how well West Ham does in the Championship depends on which players will remain and which leave. That is more important than who’s the next manager.

  3. Eric

    May 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I think O’Neill as manager would be good on the tactical side. He did quite well with Villa. However, his record getting quality out of the players he buys isn’t the best. I don’t have all the facts in front of me, but he has certainly overspent for mediocre players. Something that would really make me worry with him at the helm.

    Hughton, would be a decent choice. But that’s only based on how he did with Newcastle in the Championship. Could he bring a great mindset to the team, adapt to the players at hand, instead of forcing his formation?

    I think the Hammers will need to luck out and find someone who can work for cheap, produce excellent results, establish a defined team core, make savy purchases and return this team to the top. I think they’ll be lucky to find a candidate with 2 of those qualities.

    Regardless, the mentality of the team needs to change. Over the past 2 seasons I’d find it hard to believe any team has lost or settled for a draw more than West Ham has while leading at the half. I’m not sure you can exactly point a finger as to where that blame should go, but if that doesn’t change, getting back up next season will prove tough.

    Another thing that has me optimistic about the change is how this team has performed against championship teams in the few seasons. They struggled a few times in the Carling and FA Cups to actually play like a Premier League side and put the Championship sides away with some semblance of ease.

    The only reason I’m slightly optimistic of the potential overhaul at West Ham is that it could change things for the better. It will be tough to see some great players like Parker go, but I’m hoping the team can quickly put this season behind themselves and get back up to where they belong.

    I’ve got to hope, it’s the only thing I’ve got.

  4. Kris Heneage

    May 19, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    True TB but I must admit I didn’t see him at West Ham and his time seemed brief at best. Like you said though he knows the club so his passion can transcend, a great point.

    It’s funny you mention Tombides, he was one of the crux mentioned but some said he was too slight, something that in the Championship will make it harder for you.

    During my research I found out more about your International academy a fantastic idea in my opinion. The slug I had for this piece was ‘Back to basics’ and that’s really what I think would work for West Ham.

    Btw guys I’m on twitter these days too and would leave to put faces to my readers so if you have it follow me at: @kheneage .

    Thanks for reading and I really do like all the comments it’s great to get some debate going.

  5. trickybrkn

    May 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    You also failed to mention one very important fact… Hughton knows first hand what it means to wear the claret and blue. Playing for West Ham in the early 90’s.

    Also one of West Ham best youth players is Aussie Dylan Tombides. He’s been playing in the reserves and could be called up to the Sr Aussie squad. He is GOOD. Dominic Vose, Cristian Montano, Danny Potts Jr ( just called up to the USA u21s), George Moncur etc etc etc… Its one of the best classes since Rio, Zamora, Konchesky, Lampard, u19 team.

    Personally I’m not in love with Hughton for West Ham… My heart says DiCanio and Keen. But my head says O’Neill with a fat bonus to get us back up. Hughton just seems like yet another temp manager… Time we got back to having long term managers.

  6. Kris Heneage

    May 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    It’s funny you say that David, Chris recently gave a demonstration for FourFourTwo’s website on tactical advice for when team’s are pressing. Don’t be fooled this guy knows his tactics his Newcastle side were well drilled and the fact he managed to guide them to 11th prior to departing says a lot for his ability.

    Would you prefer a Neil Warnock type manager? A bit rougher round the edges but with more grit to his personality? I think passion can be displayed while being calm.

    • David The Yank

      May 19, 2011 at 7:54 pm

      No Warnock, please!

      But I admit I don’t really know Hughton as a manager well. His players did seem to love him. And was he still managing when West Ham dominated Newcastle in the first 15 minutes and then Newcastle made tactical changes and won the match this year? I don’t want to sell him short. And I will take a look at

      • Kris Heneage

        May 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm

        Yeah he was. That’s exactly the kind of thing of I mean. You look at his signing of Tiote a disciplined holding midfielder and it shows his tactical sense. He knows Nolan is lacking in legs but a dangerous threat so he offsets him using Tiote to just sit and keep them ticking over.

        Now I’m not saying he’s the new Mourinho, but I think he’s often seen as as the Substitute teacher on a School bus when in fact he earned that role and did a good job.

        • David The Yank

          May 19, 2011 at 9:39 pm

          No, no, no, this is the key. Having a tough, strong holding midfielder who covers for everyone is the key to teams like Barcelona being able to release full backs and get outside pressure. Or the role Park plays defensively for United. Most EPL managers still don’t get this. That’s why England *finally* looked good in qualifying when Capello finally realized how to use Parker rather than playing both Lampard & Gerrard and then it doesn’t work.

          So maybe Hughton is a tactical genius, or for the England Championship, just really understands the game, and should be our man.

  7. David The Yank

    May 19, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I’m not sure I want a “nice guy”. Avram is incredibly nice, and incredibly incompetent. I want someone who will get the team fired up so that they play for the shirt and not just wages. I want someone with a tactical sense, who will play players in the correct positions, and who will play the modern game. I want someone who will teach outside backs to STOP crosses, who teaches how to press as a team. I want someone who will drop players who don’t care or don’t perform, but will continue with teams on winning form.

    I am not sure Hughton is really the guy.

    • trickybrkn

      May 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      Zola was a ‘nice’ guy as well. that didn’t really work out well for the Hammers.

    • brn442

      May 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      True David but as you said in passing, West Ham were horribly under-coached. The main reason the hammers got relegated is for what they did(n’t) do during the week on the training pitch, especially the defence.

      Being “Roy Keane Mean” doesn’t guarantee success, ask…..Souness. There’s nothing wrong with being a nice guy – Dalglish is peach but as Konchesky found out; he will drop you in a second if he thinks you’re not good enough.

      • David the Yank

        May 22, 2011 at 7:25 am

        These are excellent points. But will the owners do the right/best thing?

  8. Kris Heneage

    May 19, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Hi Nick,

    Holmar was actually still listed on West Ham’s website at the time of publication and he was mentioned on some West Ham Forums as being a big prospect. Sadly I cannot predict the future otherwise i’d be writing from my mansion haha.

    As for Gabbidon I’m glad you mentioned him. I was well aware that he was offered the pay-off and that his contract is due in a matter of weeks but with desperation looming in don’t be surprised to see him offered a new deal. I cite Peter Lovenkrands as a prime example of this.

    Lovenkrands was actually released by Newcastle following his short term deal in 2009. However to many people’s surprise he actually re-signed weeks later for whatever reason you care to speculate. I admit it’s a rarity but with Gabbidon’s injury record I think both parties may be able to come to an amicable agreement.

    Thanks for the comments though I do love a good debate and would love to here what you think, even though you think I don’t follow the league much haha!

  9. nick

    May 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I’m not sure you follow English Football that closely. Gabbidon was offered a pay off to leave a couple of months ago, his contract is now up, he’s almost certainly off. Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson has already been released.
    You also don’t realise that G & S are very rich, not Man City rich, but they won’t need to sell their house to get £40m, so they may keep a couple of players you don’t expect them to.
    Hughton of course got the best out of a group of players at Newcastle, however he didn’t build a squad. West Ham is likely to need considerable rebuilding, it’s a very different job. Time will tell if he gets it and if he’ll manage the job.

  10. paulw

    May 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Chris hughton done a fantastic job with newcastle united, he worked many hours doing the role of more than just the manager. I wish him well and hope to see him back in management and hopefully back in the premiership soon.

  11. Andyb

    May 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I don’t think he’s that good a manager. He got Newcastle promoted, but everyone knows that squad was the best that’s ever played in the championship – by a mile, and West ham’s side will be no where near as good as them when they sell off their talent. I think there are better options.

    • Rob McCluskey

      May 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      I seem to remember everyone writing off Newcastle at the start of the Championship season and claiming “it wouldn’t be easy for them”…

      • Andyb

        May 22, 2011 at 8:45 am

        Well those people were clueless. The championship is one of the hardest leagues to predict but Newcastle winning was a certainty that season.

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