Chris Hughton lauds ‘vision’ at Brighton five years on from controversial Newcastle exit

Chris Hughton
Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton would be forgiven for thinking he had something to prove at Premier League level.

Hughton lost his job at Newcastle United with the club 11th in the division.

He was also relieved of his position at Norwich City.

Now manager of ambitious Championship club Brighton & Hove Albion, Hughton – who was controversially sacked at Newcastle five years ago –is looking to reach the promised land again.

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The American Express Elite Football Performance Centre (Pic: BHAFC/Paul Hazlewood)

The American Express Elite Football Performance Centre (Pic: BHAFC/Paul Hazlewood)

But he doesn’t feel like he has anything to prove.

“I think everybody is different,” said the 56-year-old. “I had a short spell in the Premier League with Newcastle.

“My first season at Norwich finished very well. Of course, in the second season I lost my job with five games to go.

“I never think I’ve got anything to prove. My drive is always to do the best job that I can as opposed to looking at objectives to win something or be in the Premier League.

I never think I’ve got anything to prove. My drive is always to do the best job that I can as opposed to looking at objectives to win something or be in the Premier League.

Chris Hughton

“If you do the best job you can, you hope that takes on to achievements.”

Brighton, on a remarkable 18-game unbeaten run this season, lead the Championship.

Other clubs have spent more on players. And Hughton, much like he did at Newcastle in the 2009-10 promotion campaign, is banking on the intangible spirit within the four walls of the dressing room.

He had strong characters like Kevin Nolan, Steve Harper and Joey Barton at United, a club which today lacks leadership on and off the pitch.

Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton

And Hughton feels his Brighton team has similar qualities.

“The character in the changing room is always important,” he said. “Of course, the atmosphere in the changing room and around the place is generally better when things are going well.

“It’s about making sure when things are not going well, you can still keep that strong group, strong team identity and strong atmosphere in the changing room.

“That’s difficult when things are not going well.

“Ultimately, we’re all emotional people. We all want to win games, and it’s always disappointing when you don’t win games. That’s a big part of it.

“We haven’t had a comfortable game yet. We’ve had to fight for everything. I think that draws people together.

“This season we’ve had some very good individuals in the changing room, and we’ve had a really good team spirit.

“We’ve probably needed that when you look at what some teams have spent in this division.”

Brighton have spent more on bricks and mortar than players – the club opened a £30million new training centre last year – and Hughton is backing owner Tony Bloom’s “vision”.

“It’s testament to an owner here who has a vision,” he said. “You can see what he’s invested in the training ground and the value he sees in the training ground.

“The club is trying to achieve what everybody in the Championship is trying to do and get through to the Premier League, which is getting bigger and bigger.

“I think we’re seeing that now, particularly with the nervousness of any team that’s not doing well in the division. The stakes are so high.

“The club is ambitious in what they have in facilities and infrastructure to want Premier League football.

“There’s no doubt about that. How quickly that will happen, I don’t know.

“But we’re all trying to achieve it.”