Chris Hughton defends his right to twist after Norwich City’s Premier League loss at Southampton
07:00 17 March 2014
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Chris Hughton defended his decision to make wholesale changes to his Norwich City line-up after slumping to a 4-2 Premier League defeat against slick Southampton.
"“You generally know what your best XI is but we have competition here and I wanted to use it. We have a lot of players who have played a lot of games and our form has been disappointing.”"
Hughton brought in five new players from the previous week’s Stoke stalemate, but there was no discernible improvement with Johan Elmander and Robert Snodgrass’ late two-goal salvo failing to mask the hosts’ overall superiority. Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez looked to have put them out of sight before the visitors’ threatened an improbable comeback, which was ended by teenage striker Sam Gallagher’s first senior league goal for his club.
Captains Seb Bassong and Russell Martin were part of the cull but Hughton was adamant he made the right call in searching for that spark to ignite the club’s faltering survival bid over the run-in.
“We have lacked that consistency which is why I made a few changes,” said Hughton. “I wanted to give others an opportunity to come in and put pressure on the lads they were replacing. What you can do as a manager is prepare during the week, set the team up but you are then reliant on good individual displays. It was a reaction to form. We did well with a couple of clean sheets but then we were disappointed with the Stoke result and sometimes you just feel you want to freshen things up, irrespective of the time of the season.
“You generally know what your best XI is but we have competition here and I wanted to use it. We have a lot of players who have played a lot of games and our form has been disappointing. They are all difficult decisions whenever you change the team but we have others who are fit and pushing to be in the team and competition in the squad and all I try to do is pick the best side for each opponent.”
City shipped four goals for the second consecutive away outing in the Premier League and Hughton knows that trend threatens their top flight existence.
“Yes, it is a concern,” he said. “Circumstances were a little bit different in how we did it but the fact we conceded three goals gave us a real mountain to climb. When you look at goals of course as a manager you look at areas you could have done better. In a game where we conceded three they could have been avoided - the second particularly.
“I think the last goal is obviously a slip from Alex (Tettey) so you can not apportion blame in those circumstances as we were pushing for an equaliser. What makes it even hard to takes is the fact whichever fashion we did it we scored a couple of goals away from home and that is generally something we have not been able to do on the road.”
Hughton admitted City’s late two-goal burst had flattered the Canaries at St Mary’s.
“If the game had finished 3-2 or we had nicked a third it was something we didn’t deserve. They were certainly far better than us,” he said. “A very good Southampton team were better than us for the majority of the game, but if you concede goals like we did it makes life difficult for yourselves.
“Credit to our lads they showed character and spirit to get the two goals back at the end and obviously made it a tighter scoreline but they deserved the points they got. It certainly flattered us because the damage had been done before those two late goals.”