CHRIS Hughton has promised to take things slowly in this summer's transfer market to make the right decisions for Newcastle United.
The Magpies manager was speaking on the day one of his rumoured summer targets, Stephen Hunt, advertised his availability following Hull City’s relegation.
Hughton acknowledges he will have to strengthen his Championship-winning side and having released French winger Fabrice Pancrate this week, Hunt’s name will certainly come under consideration.
But, in keeping with his character and the new financial realities at St James’ Park, Hughton is determined not to rush into any deals simply to appease fans. “Now the season’s finished it’s a time for evaluating where we are and what direction we want to go in,” he reflected.
“We have a scouting network in place and it’s just a case of formulating all that. The most important thing is to get the decisions right.
“The season’s literally just finished but we continue to gather new information every week. It’s an ongoing process right throughout the summer.”
Hunt is a feisty competitor well thought of in Premier League circles. Sunderland’s Roy Keane made repeated efforts to bring the then-Reading player to the North East two years ago and Wolverhampton Wanderers had a £5m bid rejected in January. But with Hull about to embark on some savage cost cutting as they struggle to bring down a £35m debt outside of the Premier League, Hunt has made public a gentlemen’s agreement with chairman Adam Pearson that he would be sold if the Tigers failed to hold onto their spot in the world’s most lucrative domestic football league.
“If we’d stayed up I’d have been happy to stay but we’re not in the Premier League now and they may need to sell me”, he said.
“If I do move on, it will be with a clear conscience. In January we had an agreement that they would sell me due to the financial situation that would arise from relegation.
“The chairman has been very good to me. He said once I gave my all for Hull he’d have no problem in honouring that agreement for me to go. I have done that, I have done well for Hull.
“The club say they will be willing to sell me at a reduction of the price they’d have got for me in January. I have no idea what that reduction will be and if a club will come up with the money. All I can do is concentrate on getting fit and see what happens.”
The 28-year-old’s stock has not been too badly tarnished by relegation because he has not played since February. However, he has still not recovered from the foot injury responsible and that, along with a growing sense of sanity from football clubs towards their finances, could delay a move. Wolves are again expected to be interested, as are West Bromwich Albion.
Midfielder Jimmy Bullard also seems certain to leave the KC Stadium. Again Newcastle are interested but the £45,000-a-week wages which will force Hull to sell are likely to be way above anything Magpies owner Mike Ashley is prepared to pay.
Sealing promotion in March has given Newcastle a head start on West Brom and the still-to-be-decided winner of the Championship play-offs. But Hughton feels his club has been at a disadvantage compared to many of the teams they will be competing with next season when it comes to recruitment.
“We’ve seen a lot of players this season and you have to try and cover as many bases as you can because you’re not 100percent sure what division you’re going to be in,” he argued. “It leaves you a little bit behind.”