New Newcastle United manager may have to sell Carroll
Newcastle United's next manager will be expected to accept that the club could sell their highly-rated centre-forward Andy Carroll as the board faced a dressing room revolt over their decision to sack Chris Hughton yesterday.
The preferred choice for the Newcastle board to succeed Hughton as manager is former Celtic and Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill, although the club are aware that it will be a tough sell for the 58-year-old Kilrea man to take the job.
There was widespread dismay among fans' groups that Alan Pardew, whose most recent job was at Southampton, was the bookmakers' favourite.
Out of work since his dismissal by Southampton in August, Pardew, 49, is understood to be the fallback option if O'Neill is not amenable to taking the job.
Other names doing the rounds in rumour-ridden Newcastle last night include Bolton’s Owen Coyle and Everton’s David Moyes; the former relentlessly ambitious; the latter perhaps disillusioned with his current post.
Whoever does succeed Hughton is likely to be told that the club will listen to offers for Carroll who has been identified by Tottenham Hotspur, among others, as a potential transfer target.
The 21-year-old, who has nine league goals already this season, is the club's one major saleable asset with a transfer value in excess of £15m.
Carroll had a very close relationship with Hughton and the player is understood to be as shocked as many Newcastle fans were yesterday at the decision to dismiss the manager who brought the club back up from the Championship last season.
Sol Campbell said last night that owner Mike Ashley could face a revolt from the Newcastle players over the decision to sack Hughton. In an uncharacteristically forceful interview, Campbell said that the Newcastle players “are sure to be asking themselves, 'What the hell is going on?'”
Campbell said: “This will hit the players hard. The players admired him and liked him and won't be happy now he's gone like this. It makes no sense. Here is a guy who has done an unbelievable job. He got the club back into the Premier League and any manager would have been rewarded for that with a new contract, but Chris wasn't. The players are sure to be asking themselves, 'What the hell is going on?' That is only natural. When we left training [yesterday morning] none of the players had a clue this was coming.
“Yes, it has come as a shock, and it will affect the dressing room there is no doubt about that.”
Nevertheless, Hughton's dismissal did not come as a surprise to many around the club who have witnessed the steady erosion of his authority.
He had been denied a new contract — his deal had been due to expire in the summer — and had not been given authority to appoint a new No 2 since the departure of Colin Calderwood in the summer. The club have temporarily given the job to Peter Beardsley, a celebrated former player and latterly the reserve team manager. Beardsley has been closely allied with the unpopular Ashley regime since it took over and has gone on record to defend the club's owner.
The club have also dismissed the goalkeeping coach Paul Barron, who was regarded as close to Hughton.
It is thought that both were told of the decision over the telephone.