Anfield not lucky ground for many, admits Norwich City boss Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton at Thursday's press conference at Carrow Road, after his players had trained on the sn

Chris Hughton at Thursday's press conference at Carrow Road, after his players had trained on the snow-free pitch. - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

Back in 1985, on March 16 to be precise, Chris Hughton was part of a team that pulled off an historic victory at Anfield.

The Division One scoreline in question – Liverpool 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1 – may seem unremarkable in itself but it had very special significance for the club from White Hart Lane.

It was Spurs’ first win at Anfield for 73 years, stretching back before the first world war to 1912, the year the Titanic sank.

Garth Crooks, who turned up at Colney last week and interviewed former team-mate Hughton in the build-up to the Canaries’ Premier League game against Newcastle, was the man who struck the winning goal on that notable day and, just to prove it was no fluke, Tottenham went back two seasons later and repeated the scoreline, Clive Allen obliging with the winner on that occasion.

But for most of Hughton’s playing career, winning at Liverpool was a luxury afforded to few visiting teams, although Norwich City managed a couple of Anfield triumphs of their own in the 1980s.

Hughton the manager has yet to visit Liverpool as the man in charge of the opposing team, and while he relishes the opportunity, he acknowledges the task facing his side tomorrow, weather permitting.

“I don’t think it is a lucky ground for most, unless you are the Manchester United manager or possibly the Chelsea manager. I think for those outside that elite group it is generally not the luckiest of grounds, but that would apply to most,” he said.

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“I have to say it’s always a nice feeling going there. Old Trafford is Old Trafford and is special for obvious reasons but when you go to Liverpool you can always feel what the club is with the atmosphere, because they have a wonderful crowd that get behind the team.

“Historically it has so many good moments and you feel that every time you go into Anfield. It is a special place to go irrespective of results but, of course, it’s nicer when you get a decent result.”

Perhaps the chances of that are better this season than most with Brendan Rodgers’ team already losing three Premier League games on their own ground, against Arsenal, Manchester United and, oddly enough, Aston Villa, while Udinese won on their Europa League visit and Swansea departed triumphant in the Capital One Cup against their old manager’s new team.

Hughton believes, however, that the Reds are finding their feet under Rodgers.

“They are a side still developing from the start of the season under a new manager,” he said. “He is implementing the way they want to play but they have very good footballers. I think the league table is a reflection of that but on their day they are as good as anybody in the division.

“You only have to go back to a very difficult game for them at Old Trafford last week. I thought for 45 minutes in the second half they were excellent. They are a threat and a side who will continue to climb the division as the season goes on.”

If City are looking for omens, they should at least have triple player of the year winner Grant Holt back in action on the ground where he scored the equaliser last season with a magnificent header from Anthony Pilkington’s cross.

Holt played 22 minutes in the 0-0 draw against Newcastle but is ready to start this time.

“He is fit and available. He has trained well this week,” said Hughton.

Midfielder Jonny Howson has recovered from illness and had “a good week’s training” and there is one name back in the reckoning for the first time since the Capital One Cup victory over Tottenham on Halloween – midfielder Andrew Surman, recovered from a knee injury.

“He will be in the squad. What he hasn’t been able to do perhaps is play in the games we would have liked but he’s completed a fair bit of training. He’s a very fit lad anyway, Andrew,” said Hughton.