NEXT BLACK STARS COACH: Why Not Chris Hughton?

NORWICH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: The Norwich City manager Chris Hughton looks on before the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Cardiff City at Carrow Road on October 26, 2013 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

The Ghana Football Association is readying itself to name a new trainer for the senior national team, the Black Stars, following the expiration of James Kwasi Appiah’s contract.

Potential candidates have been suggested by pundits, but one that should perhaps be included — yet isn’t — is Chris Hughton, most recently employed by Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion. Hughton probably won’t get the job (mainly because Ghana’s pockets aren’t deep enough), although a definite upgrade on some of the more popular names, but Daily Mail GH presents five reasons why he should be a satisfying choice:


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Hughton may not know much about Ghana — heck, has he ever been here? — but, through his Ghanaian dad, he does retain strong ties to the country. It doesn’t necessarily afford him the ‘home boy’ tag, of course, but the 61-year-old wouldn’t be a poor compromise. One of us, surely?


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Born in England, and to an Irish mother, Hughton is as exotic as they come. He opted to play for the Republic of Ireland, becoming the first mixed-race player to do so. A 53-cap representative of the Green Army, Hughton was part of the national team for an edition of the European Championship and a Fifa World Cup — featuring at neither — and apparently did enough to merit a testimonial sometime after his retirement. Hughton would go on to become assistant manager of the side for nearly three years under countryman Brian Kerr — his first steps into mainstream management — before settling for life in club football.


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He hasn’t had any of England’s biggest jobs thus far in his modest career — not counting interim roles at the helm of Tottenham Hotspur, where he cut his managerial teeth, in the nineties — yet Hughton has earned himself a name for breaking through barriers and defying the odds with what little resources he is handed. Impressively, in 2009/10, he returned relegated Newcastle United to the Premier League during his debut season as the Magpies’ boss. He is also responsible for securing Brighton’s maiden promotion to the Premier League, as well as guiding Championship outfit and then League Cup holders Birmingham City into the group stages of the Uefa Europa League for the first time. It’s a testament to Hughton’s quality that his dismissals by Newcastle and Brighton didn’t go down too well with fans and observers. A man reputed for taking on — and overcoming — challenges could be just who Ghana, seeking a first Nations Cup title in decades, need.


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For all he has accomplished with clubs in England’s second-tier, Hughton has shown he can certainly hold his own among top-flight, and even continental, challengers. From his experience in the Premier League and the Europa League, Hughton could tap to excel with the Stars. If Avram Grant succeeded — or almost did, at least at the 2015 Afcon — why not Hughton?


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The hugely popular ‘Year of Return’ might be over, and Hughton — who descended not from a slave, but an immigrant — isn’t exactly a target of that drive, but his appointment as Ghana’s head coach could just make him some sort of belated poster boy for a campaign that the country is still reaping from. Or that’s a stretch, you say?

NY Frimpong — Daily Mail GH

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