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Dec 10, 2010

Hislop slams Ashley's Toon 'nightmare'

Former Newcastle goalkeeper Shaka Hislop has branded Mike Ashley's reign at St James' Park as a "pure nightmare" and warned new Magpies boss Alan Pardew he has a "tremendously difficult task" to get the club's players and fans on side.

• Keegan: No stability under Ashley
• Champion: Ashley demeaning Magpies
• Mark Wright reflects on 4-3 classics
• Brewin: Toon tightrope for Pardew
• Pardew targets safety

Hislop, who played for Newcastle from 1995-1998, supported criticisms levelled at Ashley by Kevin Keegan on ESPNsoccernet suggesting that the owner's decisions are impacting negatively on Newcastle.

And the former Trinidad and Tobago captain, now an ESPN analyst, admitted it is difficult to fathom some of Ashley's recent choices, particularly his much-maligned sacking of Chris Hughton.

"I think it has been a pure nightmare for Mike Ashley," Hislop told ESPNsoccernet. "I don't understand why he sacked Chris Hughton when Newcastle were poised so nicely in mid-table. Hughton had earned the respect and the affections of the players and of the fans and I just don't understand Mike Ashley's thinking. I don't think that is the first time anyone has said that about him in the past couple years!

"I don't think he anticipated the universal disgust that the decision was met with by everyone in football. At the point when the club needed some stability to build on a decent start to their first season back in the Premier League, Ashley has uprooted that. It's not like Newcastle were in the bottom three and a knee-jerk reaction was needed to steady the ship."

Hislop played under Pardew at West Ham and believes that replacing wronged Tyneside darling Hughton will prove an extremely tough challenge for his former boss.

"It's going to be tremendously difficult for Pardew. This situation is not of his own making and I just fear that if they don't get the results, everyone will turn on him. I now worry for Newcastle this season. I think he has inherited a terrible situation that is not at all of his making.

"You have a dressing room that played under Chris Hughton and they clearly liked and respected him; I am sure all of them will feel an injustice has been done. I keep saying clubs are happy to cry and scream about loyalty when it suits them but as soon as clubs are asked to show some loyalty themselves, they don't.

"Now Alan Pardew has to somehow rally this dressing room, get them to put any negative thoughts that may have been borne out of Hughton's sacking behind them and get them playing well. They've got some difficult fixtures between now and the end of January and you feel that if they don't get results the fans will turn, the players will question the manager and the owner and it could be a really ugly end to the season."

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