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Former chairman urges Newcastle fans to back new boss

Alan Pardew
Pardew has managerial experience, but not exclusively in the Premier League

Former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd has urged fans to rally behind the club's impending new manager.

Newcastle sacked fans' favourite Chris Hughton on Monday - and are set to replace him with former Southampton, West Ham and Charlton boss Alan Pardew.

"The fans have got to get behind him because, as a fan, you have a duty to support the club - and that includes the manager," said Shepherd.

Shepherd also backed Magpies owner Mike Ashley's decision to dismiss Hughton.

Former Tottenham player and coach Hughton established himself strongly in the minds of Newcastle supporters having helped steer them to promotion after winning the Championship last season, and getting some impressive results in the Premier League this season.

But, despite Hughton's achievements, Ashley has decided to bring in a new face - and Shepherd, who oversaw the sacking of Sir Bobby Robson in 2004, says he is not surprised by the news.

606: DEBATE
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"It was obvious that he wasn't going to go for Hughton, so better do it now rather then later on," Shepherd told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I think Mike Ashley had made his mind up when he didn't offer Chris Hughton a contract in the summer, and when he didn't give him any transfer funds, and also when he didn't give him a number two assistant."

Shepherd left his position as chairman and co-owner in 2007 when Ashley bought the club, and insists he can see logic in the decision to part company with Hughton.

"It's no good letting it drag on until Christmas when they might be in trouble," he added.

"Without doubt Chris has done a good job and Chris is a decent guy. I would recommend him to anybody. But having not given him the three things [contract, funds, assistant] there was obviously a big question mark there.

"He did a great job getting them into the Premier League - but if you don't give him a new contract and transfer funds then there is obviously a problem."

Ashley has been an unpopular figure with many fans at St James' Park since taking control of the club, and his decision to dismiss Hughton could further alienate him from supporters.

But Shepherd says that Pardew - who, BBC Sport understands, is set to be named as the club's new manager at a news conference on Thursday - deserves the support of the fans, regardless of their feelings for Ashley.

"Ashley has had a lot of problems since he bought the club and his face doesn't fit," said Shepherd.

"But it is very important that [support for Pardew] happens for the team at this stage of the season. We are in 11th position and we need a couple of wins to get ourselves back into mid table."

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see also
Pardew joins Magpies on long deal
09 Dec 10 |  Newcastle
Boss Hughton sacked by Newcastle
07 Dec 10 |  Newcastle
Jol steps down as manager of Ajax
06 Dec 10 |  Europe
Lovenkrands retains Magpies faith
06 Dec 10 |  Newcastle
West Brom 3-1 Newcastle
05 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Newcastle promoted to top flight
06 Apr 10 |  Newcastle
In pictures: Chris Hughton's reign
07 Dec 10 |  Front Page
Southampton sack manager Pardew
30 Aug 10 |  Southampton


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