Chris Hughton insists managing Newcastle United isn't difficult - however believes Rafa Benitez has done a wonderful job.
The popular former Magpies boss returns to St James's Park this afternoon for the sixth time since his harsh sacking in November 2010.
Hughton's dismissal by Mike Ashley followed just six months after he had guided the club to the Championship title having stepped up from his interim role.
Leaving the club 11th in the Premier League after a 3-1 defeat at West Bromwich signalled an end to his Toon career eight years ago, Hughton has a hands-on experience of what it is like to work under Ashley's strict regime.
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However, the 59-year-old fails to concede that Newcastle is a tough job.
"I don't think there are difficult jobs, I think there are just difficult times," said Hughton, who brings his Brighton and Hove Albion side to Tyneside in what is a huge clash for his old club.
"If I'm looking at the period of time I was there and as a coach we were relegated. That was a difficult time.
"Then we got promotion, that's the aim, so the dynamics change.
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"It has been that type of club, Newcastle. They've had difficult periods but also really good periods of consolidation and if you go back even further in the Kevin Keegan era, that was arguably the best period they've had over these years.
"Not winning anything but the type of football they were playing and the excitement around the stadium.
"So no, I don't think it's a difficult job. You can have difficult periods."
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A difficult period it is for Newcastle, who are yet to record a win this season and occupy a relegation spot with just two points to their name.
Benitez's side overachieved last year by finishing 10th in the Premier League but a summer transfer window that generated a £20million unspent profit has left a negative feeling on Tyneside.
When asked if Benitez's top half finish meant he was the victim of his own success, Hughton said: “The honest answer to that one is I don’t know.
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"With regards to what they’ve spent in the summer, the reason why they haven’t spent perhaps what the other clubs have done, the only ones who are privy to that are the CEO, the chairman and of course Rafa.
“What I do know is that with the squad that he’s got, what they’ve recruited and what they’ve spent, which is less than most clubs and far less than a lot of clubs, then I think Rafa has done a wonderful job with the players that he has.
“Sometimes you can have a big budget and not do so well. All of a sudden expectations become a lot higher.
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“It’s difficult because I’m not privy to what the situation is there.
“What you always have to do as a manager is work within the boundaries of what you have, and if that means being allowed to go out and spend big, big money on players then that’s what it is and that’s what you’ll be judged on.
“Or if it’s not, if it’s working with a group of players and spending less, then it’s the exactly the same, it’s what you’ll be judged on.”