Chris Hughton: Norwich City players need to stand up and be counted
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Chris Hughton has just one principle requirement when Norwich City return to action this evening – bouncing back.
The inquest has been ongoing since Saturday’s FA Cup shock to non-league Luton followed the previous weekend’s humbling at Liverpool, but both painful defeats would be put to bed with a positive result from Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League visit (7.45pm).
The Canaries boss admitted their Cup humiliation was a low point in his managerial career, but picking up his players has not been a major issue.
“The good thing is there’s always a next game, a good result puts things in a different light,” said Hughton. “You don’t get carried away on a good run, you don’t get too down when it goes the other way.
“Picking up the players is one of the challenges in this job but not the biggest. There isn’t one player in that changing room who doesn’t know we have to do better than we have in the last two games. All I can do is reiterate that, but they know.
“These are the games, particularly on the run we are on, you look for individuals to bounce back. You look for character and there is certainly a lot of that.”
Andre Villas-Boas’ visitors will have a similar remit tonight, having been dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship side Leeds on Sunday. In the Premier League they have only drawn their previous two matches – but remain unbeaten in seven and vying for a Champions League berth.
“We can not underestimate Tottenham’s quality because of their recent form,” added Hughton. “It is an opportunity for us to get back to winning ways and form and points. They have quality players, no doubt. Was Leeds winning a shock? No, they have a lot of experience and they are playing at home.
“You only have to look at their league position to see the offensive options they have. It will be a very tough one for us.”
No doubt City would love a repeat of their League Cup success against Tottenham, where a 2-1 victory in October made it two wins and a draw in Norwich’s last three meetings with the north London club.
“You try and use the psychological aspects to your advantage,” said the City boss. “What we do know is we have had good performances against Tottenham, particularly away from home. I know what I expect and that is a reaction from my team. Whether that brings the result, we’ll only know that after the game but it won’t be for a lack of effort.”
Hughton will also hope it won’t be for a lack of goalscoring chances. The Canaries have gone three games without scoring a goal, and won’t appreciate the recent tally of sights of their opponents’ goal.
“We are not hiding from anything,” admitted Hughton. “There is a concern, of course there is at this moment. We are not scoring the goals we would like and certainly at Liverpool we conceded five goals. It is for us to address those.
“Scoring goals was probably a concern before Swansea and we ended up scoring four there, and that probably came out of the blue a bit. All you can do is work as hard as you can to create chances. I thought we had some good ones on Saturday.”
Alongside preparing for a big Premier League clash, City – like their rivals – will have their hands full with the January transfer window, which closes at 11pm tomorrow. But Norwich’s recent troubles won’t force Hughton into a different course of action.
“No, it doesn’t hasten it – you have to make those decisions for the right reasons,” he added. “The fact our form is not what it was a month ago should not make any difference. You have to make these decisions over a period of time.
“We had made those that we would like to freshen it but they have to be the right quality because irrespective of form, we have good footballers. We need to make sure any addition is the right one.”