'Newcastle United supporters are great' Chris Hughton looking forward to St James's Park return
Chris Hughton is looking forward to his Newcastle United return on Saturday afternoon in front of the club's "great supporters".
The Brighton and Hove Albion boss visits his old club this weekend, who are in desperate need of three points having not won in eight attempts this season.
Hughton remains a hugely-popular figure at St James's Park having guided the Magpies to the Championship title back in the 2009-10 campaign.
Despite being unfairly sacked in November 2010, leaving the club 11th in the Premier League, Hughton has maintained a great affinity with the city.
When asked whether going back to Tyneside added any extra spice, Hughton said: "No. I've been back a few times now.
"I always look forward to going back. No doubt it's one of the best stadiums and atmospheres in the Premier League.
"It's always nice if you come away with a result but it's good to go back."
Brighton were promoted alongside Newcastle the season before last as runners up before both teams went on to avoid an immediate relegation back to the second tier.
So far, the Seagulls are six points and six positions better off than Rafa Benitez's struggling Magpies but Hughton has commended the Spaniard for doing a "good job" and Newcastle for continuing to support their team - however admits he is not surprised.
He said: "They've stuck by the manager because he's done a good job.
"He's got promotion for them and finished tenth in the Premier League, which is a wonder achievement considering what they've spent compared to other clubs who finished below them.
"They're great Newcastle United supporters and absolutely want to support their team and they appreciate the wonderful job Rafa has done there."
Benitez's side have taken just two points from a possible 24 - those coming in stalemates against Cardiff City and Crystal Palace.
However, having faced six of last season's top nine so far - Hughton believes there should be no room for panic - backing Benitez to turn it around.
"There will be teams that will say they should have had more points and their level of performance is good," Hughton added.
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"What you have to take into consideration with Newcastle is they have played five of the top six in their first eight games.
"What you also have to take into account is where Newcastle were last season. They had difficult spells last season and ended up finishing tenth position.
"I don't think there will be any panic there, they have a good enough squad and a good enough manager to change the situation.
"I think that's how they would look at it."
Meanwhile, Hughton, who hasn't witnessed his side record an away win since November 2017, believes his old club should be the pre-match favourites.
Interestingly, the former Norwich City manager is yet to win at St James's Park as a visiting manager, losing three and drawing two.
He said: "Looking at the game logically and who would be favourites, they are at home.
"In our eight games we've played four of the top six and I think they've played five. This will be a little bit of a relief and release for them that they're not playing a team in that top six.
"Similar to us, we've had some very tough games. This is a very tough away game for us and our away form is one that we know is a challenge for us to do better as regards picking up points.
"We have to look at it that way but they will look at it very similar that they are playing a team that's not in the top six and it's a good opportunity for them to win a game."