Leeds United: Out-of-Toon Ashley on a different planet - Matteo

There is no such thing as a perfect time for a club to change their manager but most sackings are carried out with honest intentions.

More often than not, jobs change hands on the basis of results and any coach who fails to deliver on that front knows what's coming

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The complaint you hear regularly from the League Managers' Association is that too few coaches are given long enough to maximise their talent, and I'd go along with that. But it has to be said that many who reach the end of the line do so because they're failing to meet the expectations of the club who are paying them. Football has always been thus.

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Then you have Chris Hughton. If he was failing to meet Newcastle United's expectations then I cannot imagine what their expectations are or which planet their owner, Mike Ashley, is living on.

Dismissing Hughton was utterly indefensible, one of the most outrageous sackings I've ever seen.

I listened to Liverpool's manager, Roy Hodgson, talking about the decision on Monday night and you could tell that he was genuinely shocked by it. He seemed embarrassed by the fact that someone in his profession could be treated so poorly by a club he served so well.

Hodgson's been under pressure at Anfield but, as he admitted himself, Liverpool rightly demand better than the performances they produced under him earlier in the season. By comparison, Hughton's time at Newcastle smacks of over-achievement at a club who were in disarray when he took charge.

Where to start with the feathers in his cap?

The Championship title isn't a bad place. I accept that Newcastle had an excellent and expensive squad for that division and were good enough to win it at a canter, but many a big club have been lost in that league.

Newcastle were the Championship team under most pressure last season, with an unproven boss and players wounded by relegation. I can't imagine that St James' Park was a good place to be in the summer which followed, and you got the feeling that Hughton's appointment came by default, something the club almost stumbled into.

As I recall, many people saw him as nothing more than a stop-gap.

To win the Championship with 102 points was exceptional. I can't imagine that any other coach would have faired better or handled that squad more skilfully.

Since then, he had taken Newcastle to 11th position in the Premier League – as good as Newcastle could have asked for. Ashley might argue otherwise but he hasn't spent enough money to demand any more than that.

But Hughton's influence went beyond results. Look at the impact he had on the key players at Newcastle. In his spell as boss, Andy Carroll became an England international and one of the most promising strikers in the Premier League. Kevin Nolan was also transformed from a player who lost his way at Bolton Wanderers into a midfielder who Newcastle

were able to build a team around.

Even guys like Fabricio Coloccini are no longer the figures of fun they once were.

Coloccini took some serious abuse when he first came to England, accused of a lack of effort and of representing no value for money, but he's played regularly this season and last – another example of someone who improved under Hughton. That's as clear a sign as any of a talented coach.

Take it from me, Newcastle's squad will be very unhappy about this decision.

You could see the respect for Hughton in the way his squad spoke about him, particularly during the recent dispute about his contract.

I'm sure the players – particularly the experienced ones – will have made a concerted effort to show support for Chris in the press; little comments here and there, making it clear to the board that they were right behind him.

As a footballer, you're in a slightly awkward position when managers and owners draw swords. On one hand, you want to speak your mind and let people know how you feel, but on the other you have to remember who employs you and who ultimately funds your wages.

It's not your job to get involved but players get attached to managers and are bound to feel aggrieved when a change as needless as this one occurs.

I remember how shocked I felt when Leeds sacked David O'Leary in 2002. He wasn't popular with everyone in the camp, and certain players were delighted to see him go, but I liked David and I respected him.

I don't think you can pick much fault with his spell at Elland Road.

The strangest thing is always the speed of the change.

When a manager goes he goes in a flash, without much chance to say goodbye. Life moves on and by the next weekend, you're back in the thick of your season.

As it happens, I don't think I've crossed paths with David once in the last six or seven years, and that's not intentional. You just find that people go their separate ways very quickly.

It's something you get used to over time, and the last thing Hughton will have said to his players on Monday is "don't let my sacking ruin your season."

To be honest, a ruined season is what Newcastle's board are asking for. They're a big club and a proud club but the sacking of Chris is a stain on their reputation.

Some decisions are too far below the belt to merit anything other than total contempt.

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Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy at Elland Road on Saturday. Picture by Simon Hulme

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