James Lawton: Sacking Hughton was crass but it was sadly typical of Newcastle

At the end of another scabrous week in the history of Newcastle United, you have to ask the old question. Why do they do it? The fans, that is.

You have to believe it is because they have had their values shot away, piece by piece, and all that is left to them is to go along out of some desperate tribal loyalty.

They remind you a bit of the cargo cults of the South Pacific because of the absolute irrationality of their belief that under the Mike Ashley regime one day their boat might come in.

The cargo worshippers were excited by the sight of vast amounts of military equipment being moved around by America and Japan in the Second World War and the belief that if enough magic was made, enough rituals completed, somehow all the power and the wealth would be transferred to the islanders.

This seems pretty much the hope of most Newcastle fans, at least the astonishingly large number of them who remain unsick to their stomachs by the manner of Chris Hughton's dismissal.

Every football club, and even one as perniciously dysfunctional as Newcastle, has the right to change their manager, but the way it has been so arbitrarily abused by Ashley and his predecessors is surely an embarrassment even in a League where most anything goes.

The fact that many believe Hughton's crude dismissal may also have facilitated a betting coup in circles close to the ownership is a mere detail, an appalling one no doubt, but then it is a long time since anyone had the nerve or the instinct to believe anything but the worst of a club that can, like some pet monster, still command affection, even passion, among so many of its supporters.

This means that a succession of managers, some of them the biggest names in football, have known their fate from the moment they signed to the cause. Or at least they should have done.

The reaction to the reports that Alan Pardew was the new man was as instructive as the manner of the firing of Hughton. Outrage over the latter's fate was now only fuelled by the fact that his replacement might be from outside the elite of management, a man who indeed was recently fired by Southampton.

Such are the splintered moralities of the Newcastle football culture.

Fire Hughton, a man patently dedicated and devoted to his players, even the most troublesome of them, one who had produced such memorable results as the slaughter of Sunderland and the defeat of Arsenal at the Emirates, who had won promotion and had to be given a reasonable chance of checking a mini-slide, and you are committing an outrage. Replace him with some fancy name, like Martin O'Neill, however, and the reaction is somewhat different, perhaps even "March on, bonnie lads".

Hughton's achievements at Newcastle should have protected him from the worst of his treatment by the club for whom he did so much, so quickly. That they did not was just another random blow aimed at the image of football in one its most passionate centres.

In terms of reputation, Newcastle, of course, have nothing to defend. They just sit on their bleak shore, watching the flotsam float by. It is their version of black and white magic, ineffective and shameless to the same degree.

A majority of fans will say it is their club – right or wrong, their identity, their hope, and that it is nobody's business but their own. In this, they are right, as far as it goes down the road of football doom. But then it hardly stops you being sickened by their plight.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...