Hughton hopes to keep spirits up
The Magpies have made an encouraging start to life back in the top flight having bounced back from defeat at Manchester United in their opening encounter to trounce Aston Villa 6-0 and then claim a hard-fought draw at Wolves last time out. Those two games, and a 3-2 Carling Cup second-round victory at Accrington Stanley with a largely inexperienced side, have helped to create a similar atmosphere to the one which enveloped St James' Park last season as the club went on an unstoppable charge to the Championship title. Hughton said: "Anyone who has been involved in football a long time knows what being used to winning football matches can do to a team and a club. "It is going to be more difficult to get that sort of feel and the stability it gives you in the Premier League because it is a more difficult league. But our aim is to become a fixture in this league. "We have started well enough and there is a good feel around the place, probably because of the way we have gone about our business in the last three games." Memories of last season's triumphant campaign will be rekindled on Saturday when Ian Holloway's Blackpool, who against the odds emerged from the Championship with the Magpies as play-off final winners, head for Gallowgate. It is just five months since the Tangerines made the same journey and left on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline with substitute Brett Ormerod's late strike, after goals from Jonas Gutierrez, Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Wayne Routledge, counting for little. However, it is typical of Hughton that he will be casting his mind back slightly further to September 16 last year. That night, he took his unbeaten side to Bloomfield Road and looked on as they were completely out-played. Carroll's 40th-minute opener was quickly cancelled out by Ormerod to set the stage for Jason Euell to condemn the visitors to their first defeat of the campaign. Hughton said: "Blackpool was probably our poorest away performance last season. We lost there and probably on another day, would have lost more heavily than we did. "They were a very, very good team on that day and there were signs that they might be a team that might get promotion - and of course, they did." Those memories mean Hughton will allow his players to take nothing for granted tomorrow as they look to continue Blackpool's rollercoaster start to the season, which saw them win 4-0 at Wigan on opening day, only to concede six without reply at Arsenal a week later. He said: "They are a dangerous opponent, and an awful lot of that stems from the manager. He not only wants them to do themselves justice, but he wants them to play a certain way. "They will be involved in a lot of entertaining games this season. "To go to Wigan and to win 4-0 away from home is a wonderful feat. The Arsenal game was very difficult for them, especially as they had a man sent off, but they applied themselves very, very well. "They certainly want to win games and win a certain way. There will be times in the game when we will have to be cautious - after all, they are a team which was capable of going away from home and scoring four goals - but we are in a confident mood right now." Carroll has returned to training after an ankle injury, and Hughton could hand debuts to summer signings Sol Campbell, Cheik Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa.