CHRIS Hughton has vehemently denied spiteful rumours he is at the mercy of his senior players when it comes to player selection following a spate of internet-led claims he is often persuaded to change his mind in team meetings.
Hughton is not the sort of character who allows himself to be angered by such nonsense, but he was forceful in his denial as he categorically dismissed suggestions anyone other than himself had any influence on team selection or tactics.
In many ways, this is a prime example of the dangers of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, as well as internet message boards, which are largely un-monitored and difficult to control. On several occasions over the last few months, rumours have begun on these sites and are widely distributed to supporters and media outlets without any real substance or verification of their accuracy.
The most recent of these stated Hughton had been told to drop Wayne Routledge from the starting line-up at Bolton after consultation with senior players like Kevin Nolan and Alan Smith.
Hughton said: “I can tell you categorically, 100% that there’s only one person here who selects the team and that will be the normal process. I will select the team. You sometimes confide in your assistants, very much Colin Calderwood when he was here, but certainly not with any players. It’s an impossibility. If you go down that road, it’s a very dangerous road.”
Encouragingly for Hughton, who has been flying solo for almost two months as manager, he has made some progress in the appointment of Calderwood’s replacement as assistant manager.
The Journal understands a candidate has been approached to fill the vacancy and the club are hoping to confirm the appointment before Christmas. No names have been given out by sources, who insist the talks are on a “need-to-know basis” at this stage, although the fact there is a delay in the appointment suggests he is already in a job and needs to work his notice before taking up the position at St James’ Park.
Meanwhile, although some of his players have agreed new contracts this week, Hughton’s talks will not begin until the New Year as he denied a visit from owner Mike Ashley this week was anything to do with official club business.
He said: “He’ll do that on as regular basis as he can. It’s to come and see the players, watch training and show a general interest. He didn’t mention anything about a new contract and neither did I.”