Norwich City manager Chris Hughton insists Abu Dhabi is no holiday
10:20 14 February 2013
Chris Hughton is hoping Norwich City’s mid-season warm weather break in Abu Dhabi will prove the boost his team needs to end their one goal in six matches drought.
While fans back in Norfolk continue to endure single-digit temperatures, the Canaries’ senior squad are training thousands of miles away in the heat of the Middle East.
Late afternoon sun streamed across the impressive Zayed Sports City Stadium in the United Arab Emirates’ capital city and the thermometer nudged 28°C, as the manger reflected on the trip.
“First and foremost we wanted a break away,” he said. “We’ve had some very adverse weather and days where we couldn’t train on the training pitches. We wanted somewhere where the weather was good and we were given the opportunity to come here.
“It seemed a great idea and it has been. We’ve had three very good days of training on an excellent pitch and it’s allowed us to do some of the work that’s been difficult back home.”
Hughton decided to take his troops to the UAE after City’s humbling home FA Cup exit at the hands of Luton Town opened a two-week fixture gap between the home draw with Fulham and next weekend’s Premier League visit of Everton.
But he doesn’t think major changes are required to arrest the run of nine Premier League games without a win, despite an imposing run-in ahead, including trips to Manchester United, Arsenal and, on the final day, Manchester City.
“We went through a difficult period at the beginning of the season,” he said. “Then a very good period where we didn’t lose for 10 games. Now we’re finding wins that little bit harder. All you hope is to rectify that by doing the work on the training pitch. We are working on all aspects.
“Sometimes it’s a little bit of luck: you score a scrappy goal and something leads from that. Against Fulham, if one of our early chances goes in, things open up a bit and it might be a different game.”
To underline his desire for practice to make perfect, Hughton’s focus in Abu Dhabi has been training, not holidaying, to ensure the Canaries stay soaring high in the top flight.
“It’s been work,” he said. “We allowed them to play golf for one afternoon, but apart from that it’s been training and very worthwhile. It’s an opportunity. We wouldn’t be coming out here if we didn’t think it was of benefit to us.
“We’ve got 12 games left, and whichever way we get the points, we have to get them. There’s only one priority and target: to make sure we’re in this league next season.”