There was increasing pressure on Mike Ashley's Newcastle United regime last night to bring forward talks on their manager Chris Hughton's contract after his side inflicted a 5-1 defeat on Sunderland yesterday, their biggest margin of victory over their neighbours since 1955.
The Newcastle captain, Kevin Nolan, who scored a hat-trick, said the victory was dedicated to Hughton after a week in which some bookmakers were prompted to stop taking bets on the manager being sacked after a number of large wagers.
Nolan said: "We have worked so hard this week and it has paid off, it is unbelievable. To score a hat-trick will live with me for ever. I am delighted for the fans and for Chris. He deserves it after what he has been through this week."
A major part of the dispute between Hughton and the club is understood to rest on the plans to appoint his No 2. While Hughton, whose contract expires at the end of this season, wants to bring a coach in from outside the club, he has been told to promote from within.
Yesterday, Hughton said that it was still his call on who was given the job. He said: "At this moment it is my decision on who comes in as my No 2 and all I am doing is making sure that I do the correct homework that I need to do. It is something that I want to do as soon as possible but I also need to bring in the right person. That will be my decision." The club said last week that they will look at renegotiating Hughton's contract in the new year.
Nolan said: "In the majority of games we have not got what we have deserved but we feel we have made progress under Chris. He has been fantastic and hope we can keep believing, everyone stays on side and the fans understand what we are all about and we go in the right direction. Chris is a fantastic man, a gentleman who gets his point across, believe me. He is a [good] manager, I am delighted he made me captain and, hopefully, I can repay his faith in me but you could see how much victory meant to all us."
The Newcastle manager played down the significance to himself of the result and its potential effect on his contract talks.
"These decisions are always down to the club and always have been," Hughton said. "My remit is to do the best job I can. I am incredibly proud of this group of players. The supporters liked what they saw and what they saw was a committed team take the game by the scruff of the neck.
"My position is no different this week to what it was last week and the week before. I'm very proud to be manager of this football club and endeavouring to get the best results possible."
The former Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce, who was sacked by Ashley in January 2008, said that Hughton should put pressure on to get a new deal. He said on Sky Sports: "I would ask the chairman to stop all the speculation and give me a contract. Now. On the back of that. He [Hughton] justified what he did in midweek with an outstanding performance and completely overran Sunderland.
"While it is hot and while the players have done what they can for him it is time you have to really stand up for yourself as a manager and say, 'Come on, where is that contract? And let's stop all that speculation'."
The Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, apologised for the performance of his team for whom Titus Bramble was sent off in the 53rd minute. The result meant Sunderland dropped to 11th, overtaken by Newcastle who are now seventh.
Bruce said: "It is difficult, very, very difficult and it will take some repairing. All I can do is apologise when you get beaten as badly as that, here of all places, will take a lot of recovering from.
"As manager I take full responsibility. It is difficult to take and everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, from red cards to mistakes.
"It is very, very painful. We have all had beatings before but how you recover is what makes you what you are. We can talk about tactics until we're blue in the face. We had a big derby game and we probably had three or four players [on form]. To win a game you need eight or nine, we didn't have enough and we have had our backsides kicked."