CHRIS Hughton has warned the days of big spending at Newcastle United are over.
During Sir John Hall and Freddie Shepherd’s chairmanships, the Magpies were one of English football’s most free-spending sides, culminating in the world-record £15m fee paid to sign Alan Shearer from Blackburn Rovers in 1996.
The harsh financial realities of relegation brought a more restrained approach and Hughton warned regaining Premier League status will not see the Magpies revert back.
He refused to confirm reports of a £15m summer transfer budget, but hinted there will not be a lavish war chest at his disposal.
“As per normal these talks are ongoing with the chairman and the owner,” he said. “But we know they are different times these days. Certainly the days of the big transfers and the big transfer kitties – not only for Newcastle but for everybody – are a thing of the past. You have to spend and look to improve but you have to do it wisely.
“What I am conscious of is we have a real competitive squad that has generated a really good momentum this season and what we have had is players who have also developed this season. There is a group of lads and a squad I have that deserve an opportunity.”
The Magpies manager has also been at pains to point out to his players that the way they finish this campaign will have a bearing on how they start the next. Newcastle’s promotion is already assured and the title will be too if they avoid defeat at Plymouth Argyle on Monday, or if Middlesbrough take any points from West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. But there are still the incentives of an unbeaten home record to preserve and a 100-point haul to aim for.
“The important thing for us is that we have of course secured that promotion place, but it is about competition for places and keeping momentum to the end of the season,” said Hughton. “We have other targets which are appropriate for this group of lads and what they have achieved this season.
“We know it is going to be tough next season but what you want to do is go into a tough season with good momentum from the last season, which is why it is important for us to go on right through to that last game.
“The fans have been brilliant from day one. First and foremost they support their team and a side that went down a division could possibly have expected a tail-off of support but we have had an average support of over 43,000, which is outstanding for the division we are in and the times we are in.”
Meanwhile, the Magpies manager is enjoying the three-way fight between Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Peter Lovenkrands to finish as the club’s top-scorer this season. Nolan currently leads with 18, one ahead of Carroll. Lovenkrands has 15 in all competitions this term.
“The competition among the goalscorers has been healthy and it has been vital for us that we have had a contribution from everybody but it is good to have that competition,” said Hughton. “We have three players in particularly that have that target. It is great to finish a season when you are top of the goalscoring charts and that is a great target for all three of them.”
Midfielder Nolan has long maintained it is not much of a motivation for him, however.
“I haven’t been too bothered about being top scorer, just getting goals that matter,” he said. “I think Andy and Peter want to be to be top-scorer more than I do. But it’s a massive thing, I’m delighted just to score goals – that’s what I set out to do at the start of the season.”