Newcastle 0-0 Fulham: Daily Mirror match report
Published 22:00 14/11/10 By Simon Bird
Chris Hughton chuckled when he was asked how he kept his chin up after another home disappointment.
Was it pep-talks from his bosses Derek Llambias and Mike Ashley? Was it his natural optimism? Or was it the hope that another shock victory away from home would lift the deflated feeling that fans had leaving St James’s Park again.
With a wry smile he tried to find some perspective, saying: “Chin up? Before today we were fifth and we are seventh now. There are highs and lows, but we have had more good days than bad days. My chin is very firmly up, thank you.”
But the fact the question was asked in the first place shows what a strange season this has been for the Geordies.
Some brilliant away results suggest a push for the top half is possible but a woeful home record that has seen 13 points dropped from home games against Fulham, Blackburn, Stoke, Wigan and Blackpool speaks of a battle for survival.
Will that run get much better with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City the next visitors?
“It has been an up-and-down week,” said Hughton. “We started with a fantastic win at Arsenal, then a very disappointing result in the week and now this – but at least we didn’t lose. We have to keep hold of that feeling.”
The consistent bright spark on the field is the form of Andy Carroll, who confirmed that he deserves his England call-up.
Hughton moved quickly to bat off wild claims that Carroll, who signed a new deal earlier this season, was “open” to a move to Spurs.
Hughton said: “It is important he has a long contract here. This is a player who is a local lad.
“All he wanted to do was sign a contract here and he is very happy here. You want your best assets, young assets, tied down to the club. He is delighted with that and we are.
“He is very down to earth and he is enjoying his football at Newcastle United. This is the best place for him to be.”
Fulham can be relieved they have the consistently excellent Mark Schwarzer in goal and boss Mark Hughes delivered some good news on his contract talks.
Despite interest in the summer from Arsenal, Hughes is confident the Aussie keeper will commit his future to Craven Cottage and play into his 40s.
He said: “We are as close as we ever have been to establishing that he will stay. We are speaking to his representatives and we are fairly confident we can reach an agreement. He’s in the last year of his contract and he can look at other options, but we’d like to think we’ve presented something to him that he’ll seriously think about.
“The saves he made here – that’s the quality of the keeper we’ve got and that’s why we are working so hard to keep him. If we are going to be successful, we need a quality keeper.
“Mark is a very fit guy. You see him working day in, day out and he has many more years ahead of him. I would imagine he could play into his 40s.
“It’s very much up to Mark. He knows what we provide and he knows the environment very well. He’s not just got good players on the field of play, but a huge support staff behind him.
“What Mark has got is a real presence. With all the top keepers they have a presence and that permeates towards their team-mates. They take confidence from the presence of a top quality keeper behind them.”