It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s still tough for Norwich City boss

If one thing has been crystal clear in the opening weeks of Norwich City’s season, it is that there are few similarities between Chris Hughton and Paul Lambert.

It’s not so much an observation on the footballing side of things – style of play, preferred formation, choice of players – though they appear to have different philosophies and priorities on that score, but more a case of personality and demeanour.

They are different on the touchline, different in front of the media and, one would expect, different in the dressing room when they are preparing their players for battle.

But if they are agreed on one thing, it is that there is no such thing as an easy game, least of all in the Premier League.

Be it a League Cup tie against lower division opposition, a trip to one of League One’s lesser lights in the days when City were visiting Stockport or Gillingham, or taking on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, Lambert’s stock answer to what sort of game he expected was: “Tough, very tough.”


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In the case of last season’s Premier League champions, the assessment might just have been preceded by a sharp intake of breath, but the message was the same – he had never been involved in an easy game in his life, though, come to think of it, Celtic 8 FK Suduva 1 in the UEFA Cup may not have been too taxing.

Similarly, Hughton has refused to categorise the Canaries’ fixture list and, publicly at least, is not prepared to accept that the next four matches against Newcastle, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are any more daunting than his team’s programme so far.

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After the goalless draw against West Ham United left him still seeking his first league win as City boss, he said: “They are tough games, but the last four were tough games as well and the next three or four after that will be tough. For us every game will be a tough game.

“It’s not easy, but there’s no doubt that from that first game we have vastly improved as a team, as a unit. What you can’t do is get yourself too down. You can’t because we are going to get beaten in games and when we do we’ve got to be prepared and ready for the next one.”

There is one line of thinking that says Sunday’s trip to Newcastle could provide Hughton with his first victory because he has the added incentive of showing the St James’ Park powers that be that they were wrong to dispense with his services in 2010. But the players don’t necessarily share that sense of injustice, so it’s hard to see how that feeling can be transmitted to them when they take the field.

While Liverpool, the next visitors to Carrow Road, are unpredictable at the moment, the October games against Chelsea away, Arsenal at home and Villa away fall into the category even Lambert used to refer to as mere “bonus points” opportunities.

It still seems to me that results against Stoke, Reading and Southampton in November will offer a more realistic picture of where City’s season is heading.

• FANS’ CLUB CLINGS TO LIFE AS TRUST CELEBRATES 10TH BIRTHDAY

It was Mark Twain who was reputed to have said that reports of his death had been “greatly exaggerated” after reading his obituary in a newspaper.

And so it seems that the Independent Norwich City Supporters’ Club, on the brink of folding, may have life in it yet.

While, as previously reported in the Evening News, the existing committee recommended winding up the group at Wednesday’s meeting and announced their intention to stand down, those who voted – out of nearly 40 members who attended – were in favour of trying to save the organisation.

Former King’s Lynn chairman John Dollimore spoke in favour of keeping the group in existence and club president Roy Blower now has the job of trying to arrange a special general meeting in the hope that a new committee can be formed.

“It was the view from the floor that we should try to keep going and as president, it is my responsibility to convene a meeting and to give people time to appreciate what they are taking on,” he said.

“If it is the wish of the membership that the club continues I will do all I can to help them.”

While one fans’ group, Friends of Norwich City Youth, has folded and another considers its chances of survival, a third is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Norwich City Supporters’ Trust was launched 10 years ago today at an event at Norwich Castle, linked to the Canaries’ centenary exhibition.

A new share offer made by the Canaries in 2002 in the wake of the ITV Digital collapse raised �2m, and the Supporters’ Trust offered fans who could not afford to purchase shares in their own right the chance to be part of the refinancing of the club by becoming shareholders in the Trust.

The Trust now has more than 650 shareholders, holds 1,219 shares in the club and is in the process of purchasing more.

Trust secretary Mike Reynolds said: “While most football clubs are owned financially by millionaires and more likely billionaires, they continue to be owned emotionally by their fans. In our case we are lucky that the financial owners are also as emotionally connected as any fan. But who knows how future owners may view Norwich City Football Club?”

He added: “By increasing the fans’ stakeholding, we are providing an insurance policy for the future and a voice for the fans on operating, financial and sustainability issues within the club.”

Clubs with significant supporter involvement in their ownership are Dundee, 100 per cent fan owned, Swansea City with 20 per cent and an elected director, and next week’s Carrow Road visitors, Doncaster Rovers, with a director on the board.

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