Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has done a “wonderful job” with the resources at his disposal, according to Brighton boss Chris Hughton.
Benitez’s struggling Magpies are helping to prop up the Premier League table after taking just two points from their opening eight fixtures.
The Spaniard guided the club to a 10th-place finish last season following promotion but received limited financial backing in the summer.
Newcastle had the lowest net spend in the division during pre-season and the lack of investment, combined with their winless start, has led to renewed supporter unrest directed towards owner Mike Ashley.
Hughton, who takes his Seagulls to St James’ Park on Saturday, worked under Ashley at Newcastle between 2008 and 2010 and is full of admiration for Benitez’s work.
“With regards to what they’ve spent in the summer, the reason why they haven’t spent perhaps what the other clubs have done, the only ones who are privy to that are the CEO, the chairman and of course Rafa,” said Hughton.
“What I do know is that with the squad that he’s got, what they’ve recruited and what they’ve spent – which is less than most clubs and far less than a lot of clubs – then I think Rafa has done a wonderful job with the players that he has.
“What you always have to do as a manager is work within the boundaries of what you have, and if that means being allowed to go out and spend big, big money on players then that’s what it is and that’s what you’ll be judged on.
“If it’s working with a group of players and spending less, then it’s exactly the same, it’s what you’ll be judged on.”
Hughton initially worked as a coach at Newcastle in 2008 before leading the club to promotion from the Championship after taking over as manager for the 2009-10 season.
However, he was sacked four months into the following top-flight campaign, a decision which received a negative reaction from players and supporters.
The 59-year-old insists he does not dwell on what he could have achieved with the Magpies.
“I don’t know and I can’t know. And I never think that way,” he said.
“I can tell you even here at Brighton I don’t have a vision. My job is to do the best I can to make sure we get results.
“A club and owner will always have a philosophy of the way they want the club run and the direction they want the club to go in.
“But as a manager you work from day to day.
“I always look forward to going back – no doubt it’s one of the best stadiums and atmospheres in the Premier League.”
Albion, who sit 13th on eight points, are searching for their first away league victory since November.
They will be without Holland midfielder Davy Propper due to an ankle injury but could have Pascal Gross in their squad for the first time since September 1 following a similar issue.