Chris Hughton - Norwich City’s players are up for a Premier League survival fight
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Chris Hughton insisted his Norwich City players answered any lingering doubts about whether they are up for a Premier League survival scrap in a spirited goalless tussle against Manchester City.
"You have to ask things of the players and demand things from them and I thought they showed a real desire not to lose this game. We had to throw our bodies on the line and make good defensive decisions."
Hughton predicted many would portray a Carrow Road stalemate as further evidence the visitors’ ambitious hunt for trophies on four fronts is starting to run out of steam, but the Canaries’ boss was adamant this was a day to celebrate his own team’s resolve.
“I would prefer to give my lads credit than say Manchester City were not quite at it. I get a lot of satisfaction from these performances against the most free-flowing team in the country,” he said. “For us at Norwich, a draw against the likes of Manchester City and the manner we achieved it is a big result. We know we are coming into a really important part of the season and you are arguably up against the best team in the country so you have to show something.
You have to ask things of the players and demand things from them and I thought they showed a real desire not to lose this game. We had to throw our bodies on the line and make good defensive decisions.”
Hughton admitted the defeat to Cardiff the previous weekend was as big a driving force as the crushing 7-0 loss against Manchester City prior to Christmas.
“That was our worst game and worst day of the season. The level of performance wasn’t good enough. We made so many fundamental defensive mistakes and that gave them a head of steam,” he said. “So there had to be an element of that, but the motivation also came from the fact we were disappointed and hurt we didn’t get a result last week because we knew that was a real good chance for us.
“Okay, we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net here but I felt we did most things right. We know that has been a difficult area of our game, but we have got clean sheets against good opposition which shows our organisation and resilience. We have fallen short at the other end and we know we have to address it.
“We should have won at Cardiff and here we had three good chances. Nathan Redmond goes through in the first half on the right-hand side and Anthony Pilkington as well late on and we need to make more of those moments.”
Norwich’s defensive obduracy and attacking flourishes was matched by the passion of the Carrow Road crowd who delivered their verdict on the final whistle.
“We have a support here who knows the game and they know how good Manchester City are,” said Hughton. “Not only did they see us defend for our lives but they also saw us trying to win it at the end of the game.
“You know you will have to defend for large parts of the game against a team like Manchester City but we had some opportunities as well towards the end.
“We knew we had to work on the defensive shape and that is what we worked on most of the week. We had to be disciplined and a threat on the ball. We are playing a side who have scored more goals than any other team in the league. If you open yourselves up too readily they will hurt you, as we experienced and many other clubs have done this season as well. It’s a big point because it is against Manchester City and a performance to give our fans some belief as well.”