Attitude is everything as Luton Town eye shock at Norwich City
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The great Bill Shankly famously labelled football a simple game, complicated by idiots. For Chris Hughton you can condense the various sub-plots woven around today's FA Cup fourth round home tie against Luton Town into one simple word. Attitude.
Hughton knows the dynamic this afternoon and the undeniable fact is his club carry the burden of expectation between former contemporaries now separated by four divisions.
But Hughton and his players need only recall a dominant Peterborough win in the previous round that bordered on arrogance at times despite eight changes to the Canaries’ starting line-up.
“If I look at the advantages for them they are playing at Carrow Road, they have nothing particularly to lose and it is a great day out for them and their supporters,” he said. “It is an opportunity for those fans to watch their club not only against league opposition but Premier League opposition.
“We will have to make sure our approach is no different to any other game. I think it is absolutely all about attitude. We are up against a team with nothing to lose who will fight for everything and will be desperate to get a scalp and get through. It is a very big draw for a team outside of the league.
“They still get a very good support for that level and we are very conscious of what can happen. It is the same as what happened at Peterborough in the last round, albeit we were away and that was a tough scenario. It comes with the territory. We will be the favourites, irrespective of the team we put out and you have seen results in the last few days that show what football is all about. We have to be guarded.”
Hughton won two FA Cups as a distinguished full-back with Tottenham in a former life, but he has also felt the darker forces of the world famous competition.
“I think we have all been on the end of losses. I remember being in a Tottenham team that went to Bradford, who at that stage were in the third division, and losing,” he said. “If you haven’t experienced it first hand we have all been at games or seen what it is like. It is not a nice feeling. You have to make sure you are wary about that.
“For those of us who have been in the game a while you remember the big ones, the big upsets. Just look at history and that gives you all the proof you need. It is on the day. They raise their game, we don’t play well enough, then anything can happen. It is about making sure we go about our business the best way we can.”
Hughton prides himself on his thorough preparations but scouting Luton has presented its own unique challenges sandwiched between higher-profile Premier League threats posed by Liverpool and Tottenham.
The Norwich boss, however, needs no introduction to his Luton counterpart Paul Buckle following their playing days at Brentford.
“I have followed his career and we have met up quite often along the way and certainly kept in contact,” said Hughton.
“He was always going to be involved in football. He was always going to be enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. It is no surprise to see his path take him into management. Of course, apart from this Saturday, I wish him all the best. I haven’t spoken to him since the draw was made but I know we’ll have a good chat before and after.
“He is a very good football person and I think he would have been delighted when the draw was made. As any manager you want the opportunity to play big games. I certainly know them better now than a few weeks ago and I will continue to watch as many tapes as I can. We have watched the Wolves game and they did well. Whether they deserved to get through, it was a fairly even game, but they certainly did enough. It’ll be a tough game.”