Monday, October 19, 2009

Permanent fixtures?

So it looks as though Chris Hughton's reward for two successive Manager Of The Month awards might be more than just a couple of bottles of bubbly and pats on the back from fans and journalists. At the end of August I said I wasn't sure he was the long-term solution, and to be honest I'm still not sure - but it's indisputable that he's done a very good job this season in incredibly trying circumstances and, like Glenn Roeder before him, has arguably earned the right to a permanent appointment.

Of course, what the discussions say about the future of the club is another thing. It was widely understood that, mindful of the fact that he found himself lumbered with Fat Sam when he arrived, Fat Mike was holding off making an appointment in the reasonable expectation that a new owner would want to install his own man. So then it seems logical to conclude that the takeover talks are going nowhere and maybe even that he's resigned to staying in charge.

Some of his comments to the Sunday Times suggest as much: "If I keep the club I will have the final say on players" (This, it should be pointed out, shortly before declaring "I never said I was an expert in football clubs. I tried my best. But I accept my best was woefully short" - so why on earth keep on insisting you know best, then?)

But on the other hand, he still seems keen to push through a quick sale. His message for Barry Moat was blunt and betrayed a real impatience - hardly likely to be conducive to positive negotiations: "Barry Moat has been driving me mad for two years. If he wants to buy the club, he’s got a one-off opportunity to come up with the cash — £80m upfront". What happens if Moat does find the money and then discovers Hughton installed in place of his preferred candidate, Alan Shearer?

It's also worth wondering what Fat Mike means about "two years". Is he seriously telling us that Moat has been interested in buying the club from almost the very moment that Ashley changed the locks and got his feet under the table? Or is he just exaggerating out of frustration? There was certainly some exaggeration in his thinly disguised broadside at the supporters: "I have to put £20m a year into the club — I spend more than every other fan put together puts into the club each year". Classy, Mike, classy. Good to know you've still got the common touch.


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