Sky Sports pundit Tony Gale backs pal Chris Hughton to steer Norwich City to Premier League safety
PUBLISHED: 09:26 07 February 2013 | UPDATED: 09:26 07 February 2013
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Chris Hughton – and the Carrow Road faithful – has been backed to keep Norwich City in the Premier League this season – by a man who used to room with the City boss during his playing days.
The Canaries head into the weekend clash at home to Fulham desperate for their first Premier League win since mid-December.
That nine-match sequence has seen City drop to 14th, albeit seven points off the drop zone, but Hughton will be anxious to increase that gap come Saturday evening against a side who thrashed his team 5-0 on the opening day of the season.
And Tony Gale, who played alongside Hughton at West Ham and spent seven years with Fulham, believes Hughton will achieve the ultimate aim of top-flight survival.
“I know we had a great victory over them earlier in the season, but they’re a tough side at home,” said Gale.
“It’s a good atmosphere at Norwich and a lot of my friends who are Fulham fans are going up there on the train. It’ll be a hard game, but I think it’s one we (Fulham) won’t lose.
“Chris Hughton was my old room partner at West Ham when he came towards the end of his career so I know him really well.
“I’m so pleased that they are where they are in the league because when he took over from Paul Lambert, everyone was saying that it was Lambert’s team and that they’d struggle, but Chris has done all right.
“I think Norwich will be fine this season. I’ve been around the ground and if you experience the atmosphere of the different grounds around the country, it’s one of the better ones.
“They sell out all the time and their home form will keep them up.”
Gale believes one of Fulham’s unsung heroes this season has been right-back Sascha Riether.
“I would put Sascha Riether in the top four full-backs in the Premier League,” he said. “He’s got a calculated game about him and, when he’s in possession of the ball, he plays the percentage game.
“But what I like about him the best is that he doesn’t demand people doubling up with him.
“When he’s one-on-one he usually comes out on top. He always had the beating of Matt Jarvis, who’s a good winger, against West Ham.
“One-on-one, he always gets a block in on the cross and that’s a rarity nowadays. A lot of full-backs stand off and just let people cross the ball but Sascha is a great cross-blocker.”