Newcastle manager Chris Hughton has challenged hat-trick hero Andy Carroll to prove he is capable of emulating the achievements of his club’s legendary strikers.
Carroll bagged a treble as Hughton’s side demolished Aston Villa 6-0 at St James’ Park on Sunday to confirm their re-emergence after a year languishing in the Championship.
Newcastle-born Carroll has long been regarded as a potential star on Tyneside and, after impressing in the Championship last season, he seized the chance to take center-stage against woeful Villa.
The England Under-21 international’s man of the match display was the kind of dynamic effort that previous Newcastle No. 9 such as Alan Shearer, Malcolm MacDonald and Jackie Milburn would have been proud of.
Shearer was watching from the stands as Carroll showed why some pundits believe he is worthy of an England call-up and Hughton knows the forward could become a real star if he continues to work at improving his game.
“What he has done is work hard to develop his game, but we all know and certainly center-forwards will know it is about scoring goals,” Hughton said.
“He was able to do that last season — it was something we asked of him, could he add goals to his game, and in the lesser division, he was able to do that. Now the challenge for him is to do it in this division,” he said.
“There are areas of his game he can improve. How far he can go, that will be up to the environment he is in and the individual himself, but he has the attributes to improve even more,” Hughton said.
“For those who have been in the game for quite some time, he is very much a throw-back. He can be prolific in the air — he is certainly a handful for most defenders he plays against,” Hughton said.
Newcastle grew in confidence from the moment Villa striker John Carew skied a penalty high over Steve Harper’s crossbar in the early stages.
Joey Barton opened the scoring from long-range in the 12th minute and Kevin Nolan increased Newcastle’s lead in the 32nd minute.
Carroll opened his account for the season with a 34th-minute snapshot and then made it 4-0 with 67 minutes gone before completing his hat-trick in injury time following Nolan’s second of the day.
“It’s a good day for us, a really good day for us, but in the Premier League, we are realistic enough to know that it doesn’t happen that often,” Hughton said.
Villa caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald, whose hopes of winning the job on a permanent basis were done no favors by this result, admitted he will consider his future at the end of this week.
“I don’t think it changes my views at the moment, and my views are that maybe by the end of next week when we have finished all those games, I will be able to sit down and think is it what I want to do or is it not what I want to do?” MacDonald said.
“One or two of the young lads who have played three games in a week, maybe it was too much for them, so I will accept responsibility. It was me who chose the team,” he said.
Meanwhile, Barton played down controversy over his goal celebration.
The 27-year-old put his finger to his moustache as he received the crowd’s acclaim with his arm aloft.
Barton’s response sparked a flurry of allegations he was making an offensive salute, but he insisted after the game that he was only confirming that the moustache, which he had vowed not to shave off until the Magpies got their first Premier League win of the season, was on the way out.
“I was simply saying ‘the moustache is going,’” Barton said.
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