Mark Hughes has admitted that Newcastle United's struggles puzzle him given the stature of the club, and suggested that getting any off-field issues sorted may improve their chances of remaining in the Premier League, the Chronicle reports.
Steve McClaren's men currently find themselves in the bottom three, and will need to pick up a positive result in their next game, which sees them travel to the Britannia Stadium to face Hughes' Stoke City side on Wednesday, if they hope to stand a chance of moving out of the relegation zone. And ahead of the clash, the Potters boss conceded that he has struggled to understand why a team with their fanbase has underachieved for a while now.
"It always seems to be a difficult job [Newcastle]. In terms of the outside looking it, you look at the stadium and the fans and the passion and it's one of the big jobs in the Premier League," he said, as reported by the Chronicle.
"For whatever reason there always seems to be a bit of noise surrounding the situation there. Maybe it's what's happening off-the-pitch, the ownership of the club, or fans being a bit disenfranchised or results on the pitch. It never seems to be calm and settled.
"If you can get that, it allows you to do your work under the radar and get on with it. Results come as a consequence of that. Sometimes for Steve it's a difficult job - it has been for other managers."
Given the support the team receives, as well as the fact that they were a club fighting for the title not so long ago, and were competing in the Champions League even more recently, it is fair to say that their final positions since they returned to the top flight in 2010 have not been good enough most of the time.
Apart from their fifth-place finish in 2012, most of their seasons have ultimately ended in disappointment with the board either not seemingly willing to spend money on players, or - as appears to have been the case during this campaign - invest in areas that perhaps should be lower down their list of priorities.
And while Newcastle appear set to remain in a relegation scrap until the end of the season, Hughes' words suggest that he believes that if they can rectify some of the issues that have held them back in recent years, then they have the capability to be fighting much further up the table.