Norwich City boss Chris Hughton praises settled defence
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Chris Hughton insists Norwich City’s impressive number one John Ruddy would be the first to thank the men in front of him after his latest sparkling shut-out against Manchester United.
Ruddy’s stellar display in front of watching England manager Roy Hodgson at Carrow Road saw him dominate most of the post-match headlines after his third Premier League clean sheet in a row.
The 26-year-old international superbly denied Ashley Young in the first period before two vital interventions deep in stoppage time sealed a priceless 1-0 win over the three-times European champions.
Hughton admits Ruddy is in a rich vein of personal form, but a settled back four has also been a key factor with Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner forging a solid pairing at the heart of a miserly City defence.
“They look a very good partnership the two of them and that is a plus for us,” he said. “I think that is an area in any team where you need consistency. If you have that in your back four and keeper it certainly helps and it makes it a little easier going into the next game if you have performed well and particularly if you have kept clean sheets. There is nothing better for a goalkeeper than when you’re keeping clean sheets, and what he has at the moment is a very resilient group of players in front of him that are restricting the chances that he is having to deal with. I think we restricted them (United) to minimal clear-cut chances but you need a goalkeeper that is assured, confident and brave.”
Hughton believes City’s defensive resolve has arguably tested Ruddy’s powers of concentration more than his shot-stopping prowess.
“I’ve been impressed with John, particularly in recent games, where we have been tight as a unit,” he said. “They’re the moments of concentration that you have to have. For him, it wasn’t so much saving the one versus one efforts (against United). It was about real concentration levels, about making good decisions to come and when not to come, to get among bodies and so on. That is a mark of a really good keeper when you have to make those decisions in a match.”
England chief Hodgson opted to retain Joe Hart for last week’s 4-2 friendly defeat against Sweden rather than hand Ruddy his second senior cap after a debut in the 2-1 pre-season win over Italy. Hughton, however, is convinced the Canaries can only reap the benefits from Ruddy’s continued presence on the international scene.
“It is no coincidence he is with England on most internationals now and of course the England manager watching him certainly wouldn’t have done John any harm,” said Hughton.
“It’s always nice for the England manager to be present and for John to keep a clean sheet in front of him. Every player would want to play at international level. If you’re playing at international level and can be seen to play at international level, it’s recognition of where you are at. I would think if that doesn’t give him a lift then nothing will.”