Chris Hughton counting on Mike Ashley's backing

CHRIS Hughton is confident he will continue to receive the financial backing he needs from owner Mike Ashley to ensure Newcastle United’s return to the top flight can become a permanent stay.

Chris Hughton

CHRIS Hughton is confident he will continue to receive the financial backing he needs from owner Mike Ashley to ensure Newcastle United’s return to the top flight can become a permanent stay.

United are already being linked with a vast array of potential summer signings, but Hughton has warned supporters not to expect major changes to the squad as he looks to harness the momentum gained from this successful promotion campaign.

Newcastle’s manager, though, knows the squad will need to be strengthened before the start of next season as he attempts to prioritise the areas most urgently in need of improvements before embarking on his recruitment drive.

The former Tottenham defender does not anticipate any major objections to his plans when he meets with Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias next week to discuss the precise nature of his transfer budget.

Ashley has already backed Hughton’s judgement when he sanctioned four signings – Wayne Routledge, Leon Best, Mike Williamson and Fitz Hall – in January, despite the fact United have lost £500,000 a week in the Championship.

A proportion of the money Ashley has loaned the club to cover those losses will need to be paid back, but Hughton is adamant he has received everything he has asked for so far.

He said: “I am confident I will get the support I need from the board.

“What I have had this season is all the support I have needed.

“We are working together. I have a very good working relationship with Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias. I do not expect any problems there.

“Times are different. I don’t think anyone will be spending a lot of money this summer, with the possible exception of Manchester City, and we are no different.

“Having said that, we also know we have to have a squad which has the best possible chance of competing next season.” Hughton already has a number of

targets in mind, but he will not make any firm decisions until he has had a chance to reflect on the make up his squad and where the major weaknesses are.

A striker, two full-backs and a creative midfielder with pace would appear to the major deficiencies and, judging by his previous forays into the transfer market, Hughton will already realise this even if he is reluctant to admit it in public.

He added: “We are in the process of looking at where we need to strengthen, if we need to strengthen and how we are going to strengthen. We have just had a really good season and we have a lot of momentum.

Mike Ashley

“I am still very much in the process of deciding which areas I need to strengthen.

“We might want to strengthen, but we don’t want to break what we have had this season.

“We have the core of a squad which has just won the division and won it well.

“We have players here who have won a lot of plaudits this season and they will remain at the core of the squad.

“I don’t anticipate bringing in a lot of new players this summer, but we do need to make sure we are in the best possible shape for the Premier League.”

Hughton denied he has already drawn up a shortlist of players he intends to present to the board next week, but there are some who have caught his attention.

He added: “I don’t think the gulf between where we are and some of the Premier League teams is very big at all if you look at the teams who have gone up in recent years.

“We will look to strengthen, but these are decisions which will be made over a period of time. We do not have a shortlist, we are constantly being made aware of potential targets through our scouting system and that has been ongoing.

“We have reports on several players who have done well and we are aware of them. It is my decision over the next few weeks to determine which areas we need to strengthen. It is going to be tweaks, not wholesale changes. We need to keep that momentum behind us.”

Meanwhile, Hughton is refusing to allow those who argue he will not have the necessary pulling power to bring the right quality of player to St James’ Park to annoy him.

He said: “You will always have different opinions. It does not bother me.”

Carlisle United have confirmed that they will host Newcastle in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, July 17.

The game will round off Brunton Park's centenary celebrations.

It is fitting that Newcastle will be the visitors for the game as they were Carlisle's opponents in September 1909 when Brunton Park hosted its first match.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer