LONDON - Newcastle United sacked Chris Hughton as manager on Monday after only 14 months in the job saying the club needed someone with more experience to take them forward.
Hughton, appointed full-time manager in October 2009, led Newcastle back to the Premier League last season and although they have enjoyed a solid start to the campaign, speculation about his future has swirled around St James' Park for months.
Newcastle lost 3-1 at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday to slip to 11th in the standings, prompting Hughton's dismissal and the start of the search for the club's 12th manager in 13 years.
"Newcastle United have today parted company with manager Chris Hughton. Goalkeeping coach Paul Barron also leaves the club today," the club said in a statement on their website.
"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.
"Regrettably the board now feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward.
Reserve team manager Peter Beardsley, a former Newcastle forward and England international, was put in temporary charge of the team.
Former West Ham United manager Alan Pardew has been linked with the job. He was scheduled to fly to Newcastle on Tuesday morning, sources in the north-eastern city said.
The next manager will have the task of trying to revive the north-east club's glory days, they won the last of their four top-flight league titles in 1927, and their long-suffering fans were quick to voice their anger.
In a brief statement released via the League Managers' Association (LMA), Hughton said: "We have built on last season's momentum following promotion back up to the Premier League and have produced some excellent results to see us sitting midway in the table at this stage of the season.
"I am immensely proud of my achievements with Newcastle and I enjoyed a fantastic relationship with the players, my staff and the supporters during my time as manager. I now wish them and the club all the very best for the future."
Website forums were flooded with comments following Newcastle's decision to end Hughton's tenure, one on the local Evening Chronicle site reading: "Disgusted, disgraceful, shameful, cowardly," summing up the general mood.
Chairman Mike Ashley, who tried to sell the club two years ago and who has endured a rocky relationship with the fans, also came in for widespread criticism while Hughton was praised for his honesty, decency and recognised for the progress he had made operating with limited resources.
Midfielder Kevin Nolan told Sky Sports News that he was; "Gutted, surprised and shocked."
Hughton, a former Tottenham Hotspur and Ireland full-back, spent 14 years as a coach at Spurs before joining Newcastle in 2008.
After former striker Alan Shearer was drafted in and failed to prevent the club's relegation from the Premier League in 2009, Hughton took charge as a caretaker before getting the job on a permanent basis three months into the season.
Having secured promotion as champions and with strong backing from fans and players, he made a decent start to the Premier League campaign.
Newcastle thrashed Aston Villa 6-0 in their second game, beat local rivals Sunderland 5-1, had impressive wins at Arsenal and Everton and a home draw with champions Chelsea.
Although the club's home form has generally been poor, with three defeats and three draws from eight games, they are still above the likes of Everton, Liverpool and Villa who all finished in the top eight last season.
Hughton has also had a hand in developing striker Andy Carroll into an England international and his calm approach has helped midfielders Joey Barton and Nolan to blossom.comments