Hughton Not As Cosy As He Was At Newcastle

20 July 2011 10:36
Birmingham reporter Nick Szczepanik claims Chris Hughton won't find promotion at St Andrews as easy as it was at St James' Park. Nick Szczepanik It isn't hard to see why Birmingham City appointed Chris Hughton as manager in succession to Alex McLeish. After all, if you want someone to lead a relegated club straight back to the Premier League, who better than someone who has already done it once - and, better still, with a minimum of fuss and no big spending? However, there are reasons to suggest that taking Blues up at the first attempt may prove a trickier task for the popular and unassuming former Ireland defender than leading Newcastle United to the 2009-10 Championship title. Newcastle lost players such as Damien Duff, Sebastien Bassong, Obafemi Martins and Michael Owen after their relegation in 2009, but many key performers remained on Tyneside. Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Jose Enrique, Steven Taylor, Shola Ameobi and others stayed to form a strong nucleus, with Andy Carroll stepping up to bang in 17 league goals. In contrast, the exodus from St Andrews has left the squad looking threadbare. Roger Johnson (to Wolves), Seb Larsson and Craig Gardner have gone. Scott Dann, who formed such an impressive central partnership with Johnson, striker Nikola Zigic, midfielder Barry Ferguson and goalkeeper Ben Foster are also tipped to leave. Unlike Newcastle, Birmingham also have their Europa League commitments to consider, the legacy of winning the Carling Cup by beating Arsenal at Wembley. Moreover they have problems off the field, with Carson Yeung, the owner, having been invited to assist Hong Kong police with their enquiries into alleged money-laundering. But despite all this, if you believe that the bookmakers are seldom wrong then there appears little for Bluenoses to worry about. Most betting websites make City third favourites, after West Ham United and Leicester City, to win the Championship title in the coming season, with some odds as low as 10/1. Barry Fry: "They have been down twice and come straight back up. "I know that will be Chris's aim but it's going to be very difficult with the financial restraints he will have. "The star players won't want to stay in the Championship and I hoped Chrissy would get at least half the money back to reinvest in the team. But with what's going on there I don't know if he will have any money to invest in the team or not. "I'm very concerned about Birmingham's survival in the Championship. They have got no chance of challenging for the top. After losing at least seven of his best players it will be an impossibility for Chris to get them up. He will have to work a miracle to do it within three or four years. But saying that, they have got the best man for the job in Chris Hughton."


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