Chris Hughton praises Newcastle United hat-trick hero Andy Carroll
Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton saluted young striker Andy Carroll after watching him double his Barclays Premier League goal tally with a hat-trick against Aston Villa.
The 21-year-old, watched by one of his predecessors as the Magpies' number nine, Alan Shearer, and England boss Fabio Capello's representatives, made the major contribution to a 6-0 demolition of Villa on a remarkable afternoon at St James' Park.
Carroll scored three goals during as series of cameo appearances during the club's ill-fated relegation season, but announced his arrival in the big time in style as Villa felt the full force of his blossoming potential.
Hughton said: "What he has done is work hard to develop his game, but we all know and certainly centre-forwards will know it is about scoring goals.
"He was able to do that last season - it was something we asked of him, could he add goals to his game, and in the lesser division, he was able to do that.
"Now the challenge for him is to do it in this division.
"There are areas of his game he can improve. How far he can go, that will be up to the environment he is in and the individual himself, but he has the attributes to improve even more.
"For those who have been in the game for quite some time, he is very much a throw-back. He can be prolific in the air - he is certainly a handful for most defenders he plays against.
"But as all good and great goalscorers will tell you, it's not only about a contribution for the team, but they would see it more so as putting the ball in the back of the net and ultimately, he will be judged on that."
Newcastle's romp grew from unpromising beginnings with Villa passing up the chance to take the lead within 10 minutes when John Carew skied a penalty high over Steve Harper's crossbar, and the home side took full advantage.
Joey Barton started the ball rolling with a 12th-minute piledriver, and the home fans among a crowd of 43,546 were celebrating again 12 minutes before the break when Kevin Nolan made it 2-0.
Carroll opened his season's account with a 34th-minute snapshot and then made it 4-0 with 67 minutes gone before completing his hat-trick in injury time following Nolan's second of the day.
A delighted Hughton, however, insisted no-one would be carried away by a result which raised eyebrows even on Tyneside.
He said: "It's a good day for us today, a really good day for us today, but in the Premier League, we are realistic enough to know that it doesn't happen that often.
"These scorelines are normally reserved for your top six teams, so they don't come around too often.
"We have to enjoy it while it's there, but my job and my responsibility will be to bring everybody's feet firmly back on to the ground."
If it was a good day for the Magpies, it was a dreadful one for Villa and caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald, whose hopes of winning the job on a permanent basis were done no favours as United States coach Bob Bradley expressed his interest.
MacDonald said: "I don't think it changes my views at the moment, and my views are that maybe by the end of next week when we have finished all those games, I will be able to sit down and think is it what I want to do or is it not what I want to do?
"We have got a big game coming up on Thursday which we have got to get back up for to try to get into the Europa League.
"One or two of the young lads who have played three games in a week, maybe it was too much for them, so I will accept responsibility. It was me who chose the team."