Graphic: Norwich City’s route under Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton during his last game as Norwich City manager. Chris Hughton during his last game as Norwich City manager.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
2:46 PM

The shoes to fill were big when he arrived. The ones he left behind, not so much. Chris Hughton enjoyed the longest spell of anyone managing Norwich City in the Premier League. He had the transfer budget to dwarf all others shelled out at Carrow Road. He kept City up once. We will never know if he was about to do it again – his side’s huge unpredictability, in terms of results at least, made it almost impossible to call.

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As has been said, the decision to remove Chris Hughton is not the surprise. The timing is.

That doesn’t make a decision wrong. There was national uproar when Bryan Gunn was dismissed one league game into the 2009-10 season and following a 4-0 League Cup away win.

GRAPHIC: Norwich City’s route under Chris Hughton

The brink was somewhere Hughton appeared to stand at regular intervals – yet Saturday’s defeat was arguably the first time a result encouraged City’s board to push.

Southampton proved you don’t have to sit there and wait – but City did, almost in defiance of top-flight fashion.

They pulled out epic wins during Hughton’s time in charge, but the good times always felt like anomalies.

Last season, 10 games unbeaten was a wonderful achievement – but completely out of keeping with the other 28. The final two performances were exceptional – but it’s hard not to feel they owed more to the coastal attitudes of West Brom and Manchester City, if only on the evidence of how City approached everything else apart from trips to Swansea. And even that one gave way this term.

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Can you remember the last time City beat a team in good form? Or some luck seemed to go his way?

And while they could be as resolute as the best of them, the lack of occasions when City fought back after going behind was, in all honestly, never good enough.

Chris Hughton carried himself brilliantly. He is a gentleman – and yet, far from too nice for the job; a job he succeeded at last season.

But his 22-month reign was a patchwork many Canaries fans have already folded up and tossed into the loft, only to be forgotten.

Curiously, it may be the five games following his departure that actually define how history will treat Hughton’s time at the helm.

Should his successor, Neil Adams, produce some free-flowing football, a few goals and more than three points, it would be hard to argue against all manner of preconceptions about Hughton’s spell. The shackles. The caution that preceded any approach to a game. The difficulties in changing that approach once City kicked off. And the argument that this really is the best crop of players Norwich have had at their disposal since returning to English football’s top table just three seasons ago.

It’s just that it wasn’t working with the man who signed most of them.

Yet Adams’ appointment is a roll of the dice. For all his clear passion and definite youth-coaching pedigree, no one knows how this is going to pan out. And should the wheels come off from here on in, then the decision to remove Hughton – a man still convinced he could see the Canaries to survival on Saturday night – will look hasty.

The approach may not have been to people’s liking, but could it have earned that one win at Carrow Road to keep City up?

Might stability have worked in the Canaries’ favour in the end?

Would the City faithful have actually managed to be onside for the underdog challenges against Liverpool and Arsenal?

We will never know the answers, of course. But what happens between now and May 11 will define Chris Hughton’s reign, almost as much as Adams’ future. And it’s probably the case that only one of them will end up with a favourable outcome.

20 comments

  • After the manner of the defeat at home against WBA ( a team who previously had only won twice away this season) , I suspect that any speculation about whether Hughton could finesse a home win against Liverpool or Arsenal was redundant. No chance.

    Report this comment

    kenfoggo

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • No, it was the detractors making the whole team useless in undermining their confidence. Important distinction there.

    Report this comment

    LittleYellowBirdie

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • "Spectacular". - "Beautiful in a dramatic and eye-catching way". Is that so, LYB?

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • I think the feeling of simply having all the fans genuinely behind them is going to push us to safety quite apart from the fact that Adams is going to be good.

    Report this comment

    LittleYellowBirdie

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • So it was only his detractors that made Hughton useless. Poor chap.

    Report this comment

    Cecil

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • I have a feeling it may have been retro-deleted. Must check my in-box reserved for Archie`s amour missives.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • I partially agree with Cecil that Hughton probably wouldn't have kept us up, but only because so many were so keen to detract at every possible opportunity, and even if there wasn't a real opportunity. I think if more had been willing to look at the spectacular success of his first half season (made 7th before Christmas) and even the considerable success of the season overall despite the drop after Christmas, then perhaps the team wouldn't have been so scared of making a wrong move rendering it virtually crippled for so long. But anyway, this is getting boring. It's done now. As you say, we'll never know for sure. New chapter.

    Report this comment

    LittleYellowBirdie

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Not sure to which side of the fence you are going to jump if you ever get off it Michael? At least Gary Linacre let us know what he thought, unequivocally.

    Report this comment

    kenfoggo

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • The side was not `hugely unpredictable` at all, young Michael. Predictably underperforming most of the time. I`m not allowed to comment on the competence of `journalists`, but I agree with kenfoggo`s comment.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • I think we're still in a desperate situation though I don't see Adams' appointment as an act of desperation. It was simply the best option available to us; Hughton had to go. We fans saw that ages ago, the Board apparently did not. We can blame them for that but not for finally getting it right.

    Report this comment

    Cecil

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Yes, we do know that Hughton would not have kept City up. As well as we can know most things that have not yet happened. Therefore even if we still go down appointing Adams will not have been rash, it will have been sensible in the circumstances. You can say the Board shouldve sacked Hughton ages ago, and that's right, but they didnt so we ended up in the position we were in last Saturday. And having arrived there sacking Hughton was the better option.

    Report this comment

    Cecil

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • I`ve replied to that on another board, Swiss. How`s your camel`s hump?

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • Let me explain your conundrum MB. A detracting fan must be a detractor; therefore a young detractor would be a detractor boy. So it is actually a group of de tractor boys that are responsible for the whole Goat Rodeo. It was 5th columnists from the Orwell all the time.

    Report this comment

    Swiss Canary

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • I was retro-deleted, Swiss. Archie does not like Orwellian references, by George. Little Englanders.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • The word hindsight would have come into play had no decision been made and we went down. By being brave and going for it was not such a big move as the tv pundits make out as the Norwich fans will agree as they watch all the games and not highlights like them.More often than not I would imagine a new man at the helm at a time of crisis sparks a boost that was badly needed. The bad run against Fulham since the 80s will finally be ended.

    Report this comment

    Richard Bonham

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Now that I read the whole thing what a lot of tosh this article is. NA is in a no-lose situation. If we stay up we will praise him, if we go down we won't blame him. Hughton on the other hand is in a no-win situation. If we stay up we won't praise him, if we go down we will blame him.

    Report this comment

    Cecil

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • We have heard all this before after a manager goes he`s gone ! forget him, he did a partial good job ,and was suitably rewarded , lets all move on and give ALL out support to the new regime , and look forward to Prem next season onwards and upwards OTBC

    Report this comment

    richard grout

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • We have heard all this before after a manager goes he`s gone ! forget him, he did a partial good job ,and was suitably rewarded , lets all move on and give ALL out support to the new regime , and look forward to Prem next season onwards and upwards OTBC

    Report this comment

    richard grout

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • I love the way this article is headlined "GRAPHIC". Yes indeed- some of Hughton's management was hideous to behold !

    Report this comment

    Timbo

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Funny old world. On one hand the `detracting` fans are on the periphery. On the other hand they brought about the downfall of Hughton. That 10-game unbeaten run is a wonderful statistic. It was comprised of 6 single-goal wins and 4 draws. 14 for, 8 against. The rest of the season was terrible. We were gifted 2 late wins by 2 disinterested teams. In a way, that`s been our undoing. Without those 6 points it turned out we might still have edged survival, but at least we would have had a more realistic picture of what had gone on. And not then allowed Hughton to spend £28m on players he had no idea how to best deploy. Let alone motivate, train and keep fit. It`s too comfy at Carra, complacency rules KO.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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