Poignant return to Spurs for Norwich City boss Chris Hughton
09:30 01 September 2012
Norwich City’s boss does not expect any divided loyalties in the Chris Hughton household ahead of a first managerial return to his spiritual football home.
Hughton’s affinity to Tottenham goes back to his debut as a teenage full-back against Manchester United in a League Cup tie in 1979.
The City chief went on to win multiple playing honours at home and abroad with Spurs before beginning his coaching career in their academy set-up. Hughton concedes the ties run deep – but blood is thicker than water.
“Spurs plays a big part in the family, although I would be very disappointed if I had any members of my family who did not want me to win on Saturday,” he said. “I have been back before and it is always a nice feeling, but this is my first return as a manager. I spent more years there than I can remember – really apart from a two-year period where I was away I spent nigh on 28 years there. That is a fair chunk of my life.
“I was very happy in the years I was there. Very happy to work in the job I was employed to do there, whether it was as a player, an U21 coach, a reserve team coach or a first team coach and then an assistant manager. My feelings will always be there for that club, but it certainly doesn’t affect me going back their Saturday. I would like us to win and play very well.”
Hughton and the Canaries make a swift return to the capital after their opening day Fulham reverse, but the City chief prefers to draw a form line from City’s vastly-improved showing against QPR last time out.
“It was a game I felt we should have won. We had the better chances over the 90 minutes and that was my only disappointment,” he said. “I thought in phases we were excellent and very productive. The confidence level will have picked up from that first game and we will need that because White Hart Lane is a very tough place to go with the individuals they have and any potential signings they will make over the next couple of days.
“I just hope as a team we can put on a performance that leads off from last week. Our first game of the season we all know was not one of our best ones. We wanted to get that behind us and I was delighted with the performance against QPR and hope we can carry on from there.”
Norwich’s 2-1 Easter Monday win at the Lane last season marked a high point on their Premier League travels. Hughton knows from his own personal experiences the difficulty in repeating that feat. I did get to see some of their home games last season and they were formidable there. We are certainly aware of the task,” he said. “There is no doubt they are a very good side and looking at their last game against West Brom it was probably a game of two halves. I thought they were very good in that first half period, but West Brom got stronger as the game went on.
“They showed real quality in wide areas in (Gareth) Bale and (Aaron) Lennon and of course the options they have now with (Mousa) Dembele coming in. By the time the window finishes I expect they will have gathered a very good squad – it’s not as if they didn’t have as good enough squad as it was.
“Losing (Luca) Modric would have been a blow because he is an outstanding player, but by the sounds of it they have brought in good quality and with (Emmanuel) Adebayor coming back plenty of options up front. It is always a difficult place.”
Hughton admitted the midweek League Cup win over Scunthorpe left him with some genuine selection posers, allied to the availability of recent signing Alexander Tettey after the club received international clearance.
“He will be in the travelling squad,” said Hughton. “The decision I have to make is whether it is too early for him in what we have seen so far. He has settled in very well, but there has been that little bit of a dip in training with the move from France. He’ll certainly travel and my decision will be to put him on the bench or not.
“The boys who played the other night did it in the correct way because when we made the changes we didn’t want it to seem like a second XI. We went into that game with a team capable of winning the football match.
“We were able to go with what I regarded was a strong team that could push and ask questions and provide competition for places. That was object of the exercise.”