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Newcastle are going up, but Toon likely lads want the Championship title first

07 Apr 2010 01:24:20

Newcastle are going up, but Toon likely lads want the Championship title first

The empty champagne bottles have still not been collected and the hangovers are only just clearing, but already Newcastle manager Chris Hughton and his players are looking forward to life back in the Barclays Premier League. And it is no surprise. Promotion may have come a month early but Newcastle have been the dominant force in the Championship since August. A mid-season blip around the New Year was quickly extinguished by the team whose promotion was assured before they beat Sheffield United at St James' Park on Monday night. The celebrations are over now, at least until Newcastle seal their first league title since 1993, and already plans are in place to strengthen Hughton's squad for next season. Rising stock: Hughton now wants the Championship title Owner Mike Ashley, who has recently hired a new chief scout in former Northampton boss Graham Carr, has set a budget and salary cap for Hughton next season and will hold meetings with his manager to establish the wish-list of new players. Former Villarreal full back Jose Enrique has pledged his future to the club and assuming Ashley decides not to sell him wants the controversial owner to invest in the squad to give Newcastle a fighting chance next season. Enrique, who was given an insight into a real Tyneside party with a 5am finish on Tuesday morning, said: 'We've done our job and now it's up to the Newcastle president to build a team which is good enough to be strong in the Premier League. He has to reinforce the squad if we want to achieve big things. 'I want to make history at Newcastle. There might be offers for me this summer but I want to stay here. You never know in football but I've got two years left on my contract and I want to renew. 'Now we're back in the best league in the world, the Premier League. I am very happy and the promotion is an incredible feeling. Now I'm up for playerof the year and I'm extremely happy. It's been a great season. 'We're returning to the Premier League to ruffle some feathers. Before that, we want to win the Championship title. That's important for us. 'We finished celebrating at five in the morning. I couldn't believe what we'd achieved at first but we've done something great for the club and the fans. Before the match, the whole squad watched the Forest v Cardiff game in the dressing room. 'After their 0-0 draw we all congratulated each other for achieving what we'd been working towards since the start of the season.' Newcastle keeper Steve Harper has already set a club record with his 20 clean sheets this season, beating Pavel Srnicek in the last promotion campaign 17 years ago. Harper, who has enjoyed his longest-ever run of matches after more than 15 years at the club, is determined to enjoy the rest of the season before looking ahead to the new campaign. Tough call: Promotion has been a slog on the Tyne for Steve Harper He said: 'People can say what they want about this division, it's had its knockers but mentally and physically it's a very tough league with some very good players in it so to get up with so many games to go is a big achievement. 'We started off the season aware we weren't Premier League players and in one way we're still not but it feels good to have done it. Memories of going down at Villa Park last May are still pretty vivid but this more than makes up for it. Last year was desperately disappointing but we're back up now. 'I'll start thinking about the Premier League on July 5, it's going to be tough. 'Chris (Hughton) deserves all the plaudits. He's done a fantastic job at this club. 'To pull together a group of players who were very disappointed last season and unite them, and get promotion at the first hurdle, then he's more than earned the right to manage this club in the Premier League. 'Every manager starts somewhere and he's started pretty well here in difficult circumstances.'  NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Sunny outlook for Newcastle as Chris Hughton blows away the dark cloudsOver the Toon: Fired-up Newcastle seal return to the Premier LeagueNewcastle are back in the big time! Goalless draw at City Ground clinches promotion back to Premier LeagueNewcastle 2 Sheffield United 1: Toon tears as Hughton finds it all too much


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