Chris Hughton enjoying ‘toughest task’ at Norwich City
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Chris Hughton feels keeping Norwich City in the Premier League would be one of the best achievements of his managerial career.
The Canaries head to Everton on Saturday on the back of beating Manchester United to extend their unbeaten league run to five matches, but the former Newcastle and Birmingham chief has cautioned that City still face a huge challenge to retain their top flight status.
“Given the resources this club has, the strength of the squad and the quality of opposition we are up against on a weekly basis, I would say this is the toughest task I have taken on in my career,” he said. “You look at what I inherited at Newcastle and while it was a team suffering from the disappointment of relegation from the Premier League, the basic core of that squad still had a lot of quality.
“It was a case of pushing them in the right direction, reminding them of some good habits and getting them back on their feet, which I did successfully. Birmingham was different because of the financial situation at the club and we did so well to get into the play-offs last season, but I look at the job I’ve taken on at Norwich and it’s a real tough one.”
Hughton, speaking to ESPN, is under no illusions how tough an act he had to follow.
“I would not wish to criticise the previous manager for one moment because he did a wonderful job here, but Paul Lambert knew the time was right for him to leave when he did,” he said. “I’m sure Paul appreciated that this season would be very tough at Norwich because the surprise element that served him well in their first season back in the Premier League is gone and it is a case of working hard to get points now. It’s not easy, but I’m enjoying the challenge.
“We have an honest group of players here who are doing their best to get results in an environment that is very difficult for us to succeed in, but the satisfaction you get when you succeed at a club of Norwich’s stature is even more thrilling than it would be if I was at what you might consider one of the top clubs in England.”
Hughton insisted, however, the lure of managing again in the Premier League proved irresistible after his previous Newcastle spell turned sour.
“If you work in this game, you want to be involved in the Premier League, to pit your wits against Manchester United and Chelsea, to try and defy the odds,” he said. “The pressure and stress you put yourself through is probably not good for you.
“Can I switch off when I go home at night? Not really because there is always something to do, always a phone call to take, always a problem that crops up.
“The January transfer window is just around the corner now and already the agents are ringing me trying to sell me this player and that player – whether Norwich can afford to bring in the guys we are being offered is a different matter.”