Newcastle move to halt Hughton speculation

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The Independent Football

Newcastle boss Chris Hughton is hoping to stay at St James' Park for the long term after the club moved to end speculation over his future.

Within minutes of tonight's 4-0 Carling Cup fourth round defeat by Arsenal, the Magpies issued a statement insisting that they intend to resolve Hughton's contractual situation - his current deal is due to expire at the end of this season - by the turn of the year.

The news came after days of speculation that his time on Tyneside was drawing to a close with former boss Joe Kinnear and Alan Pardew among those being touted as his replacement.

Speaking after being told of the statement, Hughton said: "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."

Hughton took up the reins at St James' on a caretaker basis last summer with the club in disarray in the wake of relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

Against the odds, he dragged a depleted squad back into the top flight as Coca-Cola Championship winners having been rewarded with a permanent contract.

However, talks over a new deal have stalled and the subject has been raised repeatedly at the manager's press conferences in recent weeks, but with no reports of progress.

That has simply served to fuel the tide of rumours, and the club will hope tonight's statement puts the matter to bed for the time being at least.

For Hughton, the speculation has proved frustrating, but he insists it has not deflected him from his mission.

He said: "One thing it doesn't do, it doesn't deter me from the job that I am doing.

"Is it a help? Of course it's not a help; is it something I welcome? Of course it is not something I welcome.

"But one thing can guarantee it doesn't do, it doesn't take my focus off the big job that I am employed here to do.

"I have a remit, as I did last season, which was to do the best job I can for this team and get this great club back into the Barclays Premier League. That we were able to achieve.

"I have a remit to keep this club in this division this season and the league table at this moment says we are doing okay, so nothing is any different from yesterday as it is today and the next day.

"We are focussed very much on winning as many games as we can and making sure we get some stability back at this football club."

That process would be aided in no small part by victory over derby rivals Sunderland on Sunday as the Magpies look for a first home win in five attempts.