Magpies to run a tight ship
NEWCASTLE boss Chris Hughton has admitted the club's big-spending days are over despite an immediate return to the Premier League. With promotion having been assured earlier this month, Hughton is beginning to turn his attention towards the strengthening that will be necessary to safeguard the club's newly-earned position amongst the elite. The Newcastle boss has been promised funds for new recruits, but with owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias determined to keep finances on an even keel, the level of investment will not be on a par with some of the spending splurges of the past. When the Magpies were last promoted in 1993, they embarked on a headlinegrabbing recruitment policy that reached its apex three years later when Alan Shearer arrived at St James' Park for a world-record fee. Times have changed considerably since then, and while Hughton expects to be busy once the transfer window reopens at the start of June, he has warned Newcastle fans not to expect a succession of big-money buys. Talks are ongoing with the chairman and the owner, said the Magpies manager, who only made one permanent signing, Peter Lovenkrands, last summer. But we know they are different times these days. I certainly think the days of the sums of big transfers and the big transfer kitties - not only for Newcastle, but for everybody are a thing of the past. I think you have to spend and look to improve, but you have to do it wisely. That is likely to mean a small number of medium-priced recruits rather than a scattergun pursuit of a large number of players who would be destined to spend the majority of next season on the periphery. Hughton clearly feels he already possesses the core of a squad capable of competing in the top-flight, and the success achieved by the likes of Birmingham and Wolves this season - clubs that made only slight changes to the sides that won promotion - would appear to bear his thinking out. The likes of Jose Enrique, Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Guthrie and Andy Carroll appear to have improved considerably this season, and to deny them an opportunity to prove themselves in the Premier League would be unwise. Similarly, Hughton deserves his chance to ply his trade at a higher level having handled the pressures of a season in the Championship with aplomb. He helped generate a unity of purpose in the early months of the season, and successfully prevented things from falling apart last month when Steven Taylor and Andy Carroll were involved in a training-ground incident that left the former nursing a broken jaw. Newcastle officials have been criticised in some quarters for failing to disclose the details of what happened that day, but Hughton insists the club was right to close ranks at such a pivotal stage of the season. In any season, you will have problems you have to deal with, he said. That is the norm, and it will be the norm in any season you have. Unfortunately, some of the problems get out and some don't. That would be the norm at every club. The ideal way is to keep everything in house. Sometimes, that is not possible. But you also know that when things are going well, you can ride things easier than when they are not going so well. We have been fortunate that things have gone well for most of the season.
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