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Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Chris Hughton is not a great believer in fate or the theory Swansea City will arrive at Carrow Road jaded after their European exertions.
The Swans suffered a gruelling midweek trip to Switzerland that ended in defeat, but with the consolation of a place in the knock-out phase of the Europa League. Michael Laudrup’s squad have played more games this season than any of their other top-flight rivals but Hughton knows the fringe benefits from continental success after a similar timetable during his previous managerial posting at Birmingham.
“We felt it helped us,” he said. “We rotated the squad for those games and certainly at home we had full houses and great atmospheres and it motivated us for the league form. It was definitely more of a help than a hindrance, but I can understand those who have the opposite view. It certainly stretches a squad and your resources. Where Swansea is fortunate is they do have a big and good squad. You would have to ask them how much it has been a hindrance.
“You can really take that any way you want. It could be a situation that actually galvanises the players. They’ve had a tough week and they are going to need to dig deep for another game but the fact they have qualified makes it a successful one. I will focus on our business. We are on the back of a good win, we are at home and this is an opportunity to put back-to-back wins together. We have to show a burning desire to want to get three points.”
Laudrup’s side also have the weight of recent history to contend with after failing to beat Norwich since both were promoted to the Premier League.
“Do I think there are bogey teams? Not really, there might be players who for some reason have a bit of good fortune and score goals against a particular side but really it’s all about performing on the day,” said Hughton. “You can speak to any manager and they will all tell you we treat games as one-off affairs. What we do know is Swansea will look to have a lot of possession but you only have to look at the league every week to see that doesn’t guarantee you wins. You can have the majority of the football, but it is about the areas you have the football in and those key ones are both penalty boxes.”
Gary Hooper’s strike was the difference last time out at Carrow Road to sink Crystal Palace before his first half goal at the Hawthorns last weekend underlined City carry a genuine attacking threat.
“What pleases me as much as the goals is the fact that Gary is working ever-so hard for the team,” said Hughton. “His fitness levels are very good now and he is one of those players who can score goals in tight areas and if he makes the runs we have to produce balls like we did WBA.”