It came as a shock to Newcastle United supporters, and the football world in general, when on Monday, the club posted a statement on its website saying 'United Part Company with Hughton'.
Chris Hughton, now the former manager of Newcastle, is largely to thank, for saving the club from disappearing into oblivion after their relegation in the 2008-09 season. Under his guidance, the club came through as Champions in last season's Championship league, amassing a total of 102 points and beaten just 4 times in 46 games. Not only did they get promoted back into the Premier League at the first time of asking, they also place a healthy 12th in the current season having played 16 matches, which is commendable for a newly-promoted side.
Hughton picked up the remains of a Newcastle side, left in scraps after a discombobulated season which saw Kevin Keegan elbowed out by owner, Mike Ashely, and replaced by Joe Kinnear who succumbed to illness leaving striking legend Alan Shearer to try and prevent the side from sliding into relegation. At that stage, Newcastle, like countless other clubs before them, were under risk of getting stuck in the lower echelons of the championship with the looming threat of being stamped with the tag of 'a used to be great' club.
Ashley, who had been unsuccessful in selling the club, handed the reins to Hughton who brought life to a shattered dressing room, bringing in a democratic system where players and coaches discussed their feelings and opinions. Team spirit soared and even players such as Joey Barton, shed their unruly disciplinary record, and contributed to a great season which saw them lift the championship title with 11 points to spare.
Back in the Premier League, Hughton and Newcastle refused to get overwhelmed. But Ashley and his advisors stalled on offering him a new contract. As rumours spread that Hughton would get the sack, Newcastle delivered on the pitch. They thrashed Sunderland 5-1 before securing impressive wins at Arsenal and Everton.
However, injuries and suspensions meant Hughton had less than half of his first team to choose from and this saw them collect only 2 points from a possible 15 in the last five games. This, it seems, was the final straw of Mike Ashely and Hughton was sacked on Monday afternoon, after a training session.
The club's statement said - Newcastle United Football Club have today parted company with manager Chris Hughton. Goalkeeping coach Paul Barron also leaves the club today (Monday).
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 manager in October 2009. The club wishes him well for the future.
Regrettably the board now feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward. The task of appointing a new manager now begins. An announcement will be made shortly regarding transitional arrangements pending the appointment of a successor.
Hughton himself released a statement saying he was proud of his achievements.
He 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. The termination of my contract is now in the hands of the LMA (League Managers Association) and I will therefore be making no further comment at this stage.''
Ashley will now search for a sixth manager in his three years at Newcastle. Whoever he chooses though will have a huge task ahead if he is to win the support of the players and the fans. The players were public in voicing their disapproval over Hughton's sacking. Hughton was an admired and respected figure at Newcastle and Captain Kevin Nolan said that the players were shocked and upset at the decision, and praised Hughton for his contribution.
We are all upset that Chris is going, he told The Sun. He helped a lot of the lads here with their careers when he was a coach and then as manager.
We will never forget our promotion from the Championship last season and we have to do what he told us. Stick together, make sure we keep the unity Chris has built up and get through this difficult period. It goes without saying we were shocked by the announcement.
Chris was gutted about what had happened. You could see that. But it said so much about him that, even though he was obviously disappointed to be going, he was still telling me and Joey (Barton) that we had to make sure we had a good season.
There was such dignity about the way he left, which is how he conducted himself while he was the manager.
Former England and Tottenham Center back, Sol Campbell, admitted that the players were confused and that it would affect the dressing room.
He told ESPN Soccernet: Chris is such a lovely guy. Top man. This will hit the players hard. The players admired him, and liked him, and won't be happy now he's gone like this.
You have got to ask yourself why this has happened because it makes no sense. Here is a guy who has done an unbelievable job. He got the club back into the Premier league and any manager would have been rewarded for that with a new contract - but Chris wasn't.
The players are sure to be asking themselves 'what the hell is going on?' that is only natural. We all had a good relationship with the players, and when we left training this morning none of the players had a clue this was coming.
But word started to spread that the bookies had stopped taking bets and the players started texting each other with the news. Yes, it has come as a shock, and it will affect the dressing room there is no doubt about that.
The press all over England berated Mike Ashley for his instinctive reaction, and Richard Williams of The Guardian summed it up with his piece Just another dismal decision from Mike Ashley, a disgrace to football.
In a dramatic twist of events, however, Martin Jol, former Tottenham manager, resigned from Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam prompting the bookies to place him on top to replace Hughton. Hughton was Jol's assistant when they were at Tottenham.
Other possible replacements include former Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neil, and the Alan's - Pardew, Curbishley and even Shearer. Newcastle are expected to make a decision by the end of the week. However, reserve team manager, Peter Beardsley, will take charge of the team ahead of the visit from Liverpool.
In the following weeks, it leaves one to wonder why Mike Ashley, who had just a year back stated that he regretted purchasing the club and had accepted that he did not have the required stance and knowledge to own a football club, continue to plunge the club into crisis when they finally looked like surfacing from a Premier League season with their respect regained.