Hughton leaves Newcastle
Newcastle have parted company with manager Chris Hughton, the Barclays Premier League club confirmed this afternoon.
The 51-year-old leaves the club just seven months after guiding them back into the top flight and with them sitting 11th in the table.
They were beaten 3-1 at West Brom yesterday, a result which looks to have brought Hughton's time with the club to an end, just over a month after they beat bitter rivals Sunderland 5-1 and won 1-0 at Arsenal.
Hughton was named as the club's permanent manager in October 2009 after a number of caretaker stints in charge, and the club said in October that they would be looking to renegotiate his deal in the new year after speculation he was about to be sacked.
That no longer applies, though, with the St James' Park outfit confirming Hughton's departure on their website.
A statement read: "The board would like to place on record their thanks to Chris for his considerable efforts during the club's transition from Championship to Premier League football.
"Chris has shown exceptional character and commitment since being appointed manager in October 2009.
"The club wishes him well for the future. Regrettably the board now feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward.
"The task of appointing a new manager now begins. An announcement will be made shortly regarding transitional arrangements pending the appointment of a successor."
Hughton has been working without an assistant manager since Colin Calderwood joined Hibernian in October, and is followed out of the exit door by goalkeeping coach Paul Barron.
Hughton arrived at Newcastle in February 2008 following a 20-year association with Tottenham.
He was appointed as coach to Kevin Keegan by director of football Dennis Wise, and then served as caretaker manager when Keegan left and was replaced by Joe Kinnear.
When Kinnear fell ill the following February, Hughton again stepped in, before assisting Alan Shearer and Iain Dowie as Newcastle were relegated.
He was placed in caretaker charge in the summer of 2009, with owner Mike Ashley not willing to appoint a permanent boss while he looked to sell the club.
Hughton started so well, though, that the club offered him a permanent deal in October.
He then guided United to the Championship title, with the prize wrapped up with two games to spare.
On their return to the top flight, Newcastle have won five of their 16 games so far, with wins including the Sunderland result and a 6-0 triumph over Aston Villa.
Recent away results have been disappointing, though, with a 5-1 defeat at Bolton followed by yesterday's loss to Albion.
Hughton kept his players locked in the dressing room for more than an hour following the defeat, but when he eventually emerged to face the media, he gave no indications of what was to come today.
He said at the time: "After most games, there tends to be an inquest into the game and today (Sunday) we didn't do well enough to win a football match.
"Some of it is about getting answers, some of it is about venting your anger.
"But these are the normal things that will go on after a game, particularly when the result has been as disappointing as today.
"Our season has very much been highs and lows. We've picked up some disappointing results and we've had some tremendous results."
The announcement is all the more surprising considering the club said on October 27 that Hughton's position was safe.
Speculation grew before and after a 4-0 Carling Cup defeat at home to Arsenal that he was set to be sacked, prompting the club to issue a statement backing their boss.
"Chris is our manager and will remain our manager, and it is our intention to re-negotiate his contract at the end of the year," the club said at the time.
That prompted Hughton to declare his happiness with his position, with the former Republic of Ireland international saying: "I have been at this club now for two and a half years and I have got to know everybody very well.
"I have very much enjoyed my time here and I am very, very happy here and would like to stay here for as long as possible.'"