Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughHard-fought Win Is Just Rewards For Chris Hughton And Loyal Canary Fans - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Hard-fought Win Is Just Rewards For Chris Hughton And Loyal Canary Fans - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Hard-fought Win Is Just Rewards For Chris Hughton And Loyal Canary Fans


When Chris Hughton was appointed Norwich manger in June following the departure of Paul Lambert, it was somewhat overshadowed by other summer managerial moves such as Michael Laudrup to Swansea, Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool, and even Lambert himself to Aston Villa.

However, the consensus among the Carrow Road faithful was that Hughton was a sound appointment, a safe pair of hands capable of continuing the good work of the previous three seasons.

Seven games in, only 3 points gained, and winless after heavy defeats to Fulham, Liverpool and Chelsea, Hughton, although concerned at his side’s defensive frailties, remained firm in his belief that his team would improve.

While murmurs of discontent, and speculation over the future of some Premier League managers had already began to surface, Hughton’s job seemed remarkably safe despite Norwich’s precarious position one point off the foot of the table. Yet no fan groups were calling for the manager’s head, no players questioning their gaffer’s methods and their was no dreaded ‘vote of confidence’ from Delia and the board.

At the same time, Mark Hughes’ expensively-assembled QPR side is, as with his own ten-month reign, very much in its infancy, and while their results mirrored their East Anglian rivals’, the media had already placed Harry Redknapp in the yet-to-be-vacated Loftus Road hotseat. Tony Fernandes and the Rangers board were issuing statements almost daily regarding the status of their manager, and fans were reportedly “unhappy” with their team’s performances.

Football is a fickle business, and followers of the beautiful game are fickler still: they will forever remember past glories but are lightning fast to forget more recent successes. Two seasons ago, QPR were a Championship side, and had not played in the top flight since 1995/96. This fact seems to have been lost on a section of their supporters amongst the almost inevitable poor start to their second season in the Premier League.  What Hughes needs is that rare commodity afforded to football managers in the modern game, something that super-rich owners rarely allow, but something that Chris Hughton has been given by Delia Smith, David McNally and Norwich City fans – time.

Over the summer, Hughton rebuilt a defence whose porous nature was often overshadow by the attractive football City played under Paul Lambert, bringing in three new players, all with Premier League experience. However, changing all but one of an entire back four can be difficult, and something Hughton appeared reluctant to do immediately, as he tried a number of defensive combinations over the opening weeks of the season. After playing Michael Turner, then Sebastien Bassong alongside Leon Barnett saw the Canaries leak nine goals in the previous two games, Hughton finally fielded the triumvirate of Turner, Bassong and former Manchester City full-back Javier Garrido in a defensive unit, together with Russell Martin for the first time against Arsenal.

Whether by luck or calculated judgement, the results were instant. A 1-0 victory over the Gunners gave Norwich their first win of the season and, with it, a performance of solidity, tactical soundness, and togetherness in nullifying the threat of Santi Cazorla and Co. Both the result and performance, which limited Arsenal to only a handful of shots on target, justified the faith of the Norwich board and fans in allowing their manager time to build his team, integrate new players and not be afraid to lose a few games along the way. Norwich City fans will hope that this result is not in isolation, but a sign of progress with a new team under a new manager.

Impatient, self-gratifying billionaire owners of Premier League clubs take note.

Ricky Goddard