Chris Hughton knew the size of the task at Norwich City
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Chris Hughton never had any regrets he made the right decision to join Norwich City despite a difficult start to his Premier League reign.
The Canaries stretched their unbeaten league run to four games with a weekend point at Reading and Hughton is delighted with the positive response to early adversity following a heavy opening day reverse at Fulham.
“On that first day, I think we got a lot of things wrong. It was a bit of a surprise for us,” he said. “We had had a decent pre-season and we’d looked quite solid without scoring the goals we would have liked. We didn’t see that coming, I must admit.
“But I was encouraged straight after that. We had four games after that which were very encouraging, so I know it’s there. You can only deal with what’s put in front of you and I’ve been fortunate that I’ve got a good group of players. I’ve also brought in a good group of players and at the moment we’ve got some really good competition for places. On a lot of occasions, a second season is the toughest season. But that’s what the challenge is. I think the previous manager before me would have felt the same, that it was going to be a real tough season.”
Hughton’s squad have gone back to basics after a fourth clean sheet of the campaign at the Madejski, but the City boss insisted he did not inherit the rump of a squad with defensive vulnerability.
“No, the videos that I saw of last season were of a team that finished in 12th and won enough games and got enough points – a magnificent achievement,” he said. “If I’m able to achieve that this season I’ll be absolutely delighted. All credit to the players. They’ve responded really well. We knew it was probably the most important area - that we had to make sure we were a harder team to play against, and then look for your quality to score goals.”
Hughton accepts the next challenge is to try and carry greater potency going forward, but the City boss knows Manchester United will test Norwich’s new-found resolve this weekend at Carrow Road.
“We’ll need all that momentum and all the defensive qualities we have shown recently, and more, to get something,” he said. “They don’t come any tougher than that, even at home, but we are certainly better going into that for being on the run we are on. The players are the ones who have worked hard and who accepted the poor results before was not them - they are better than that.
“Maybe we have lost a bit of the attacking flair as a result of being more solid but it is hard for us to be the finished article and be as good as the big teams at both ends. Possibly we have had to sacrifice a little bit of that, but we are still getting into some good areas. The next stage is to remain as solid and create the opportunities on top of that.”