NEWCASTLE (5) vs SUNDERLAND (1)
NEWCASTLE recorded their biggest Tyne-Wear derby victory in 54 years but manager Chris Hughton remained coy on the subject of his future at the club.
Freshly promoted Newcastle sit in a thoroughly respectable seventh place in the Premier League table, above their local rivals, following an emphatic win which came courtesy of a Kevin Nolan hat-trick and a Shola Ameobi brace.
Despite that healthy outlook, Hughton’s week started with him having to field questions about his future, with the speculation kicking into overdrive on Wednesday after the club released a statement outlining their intention to discuss a new deal at some point in the future.
Asked whether yesterday’s result had gone some way to strengthening his hand, Hughton said: “My position is no different this week to what it was last week and the week before.
“Those decisions are always down to the club, as they always have been.
“My remit at this moment is to do the best job that I can. I am incredibly proud of a group of players today who made a very, very difficult game comfortable at times for them.”
Nolan, who fired the first treble of his professional career, added: “I’m delighted for the fans and delighted for Chris after what he’s been through this week.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland manger Steve Bruce was willing to accept “full responsibility” for his side’s capitulation.
He said: “All you can do is apologise when you get beaten as bad as that, here of all places.”
Blues finally end their Villa hoodoo
BIRMINGHAM ended a run of six successive defeats against Aston Villa by holding their local rivals to a goalless draw at Villa Park.
In what was a largely drab affair, the main talking point came when referee Howard Webb failed to award a penalty after Nigel Reo-Cocker appeared to handle in the first half.
“He moved his arm. It is human instinct. But we’ve not had much luck with penalties for a couple of years and it was no surprise not to see it given,” said Blues boss Alex McLeish.