Chris Hughton - Norwich City’s players believe they can shock Manchester City
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Chris Hughton’s biggest task this week will have been convincing his Norwich City players they can shock Manchester City.
The Canaries’ boss readily concedes the club’s 7-0 mauling in the north-west before Christmas was the most depressing point of an inconsistent campaign and Hughton knows any attempt to set the record straight will hinge on the collective resolve of those who emerge from the home dressing room.
“There won’t be too many who expect us to beat Manchester City. The ones I would hope feel differently are my players because we know what we are capable of,” he said. “We will have a fantastic crowd and we have to give them something to get behind us. That will be our message to the players. We know it’s a tall order and perhaps those games when no-one expects you to get anything can end up the most pleasing. We will give everything for that to happen. You need a majority of your players at their very best and you hope the opposition do not have one of their better days.”
Hughton has plotted home wins against Arsenal and Manchester United in the past and those peaks will need to be scaled again to inflict a second consecutive Premier League defeat this week on Manuel Pellegrini’s high rollers.
“You have to play as a team, which means being hard to beat and resilient, and we have to be able to exploit some of the spaces they leave, but to do that you have to stay in the game,” he said. “That can mean an expansive, open, attacking type of approach or it can mean showing plenty of resilience, as we did here against Arsenal and Manchester United. On both those occasions we were compact but we also carried a threat. We have to prepare to play against a fabulous team with so many attacking options, but we haven’t planned for individual players - it is about coping with where they work the ball and into what areas of the pitch.”
Hughton was at the Etihad earlier this week to watch Chelsea demonstrate there are chinks in the armour of a club who had smashed a 115 goals in all competitions before the end of January.
“I have to say Chelsea were excellent and they can do that. They have that level of quality,” he said. “You are always looking at situations that you can exploit and benefit from. We all know the facts. They are a wonderful, offensive football team who can score goals at will. That is the challenge. That is the exciting part. I thought Chelsea played very well but it was one of those type of games where Manchester City had a couple of early chances and if they had put one of those away then it could have been a different outcome.
“Its not rocket science to state with their attacking options you have to be solid and there might be large periods when we have to defend well.
“You also have to be able to test them. If you are sitting back for 90 minutes there is probably only going to be one result.”