Opinion: Beating Manchester City is not Mission Impossible for Norwich City
11:30 07 February 2014
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, Chris Hughton, is to find a way to stop Manchester City from embarrassing Norwich City again this season.
Jose Mourinho found the tactical set-up to frustrate Manuel Pellegrini’s side when Chelsea became the first side to win at the Etihad this season on Monday night.
That 1-0 win was a masterclass of counter-attacking football from ‘The Special One’, with his team arguably unlucky to have not won by more goals, having struck the woodwork three times.
So can Hughton try to follow in the footsteps of Mourinho when Manchester City arrive at Carrow Road tomorrow?
Or will the backs-to-the-wall defensive approach which saw West Ham recently hold Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at Upton Park, described by Mourinho as “football from the 19th century”, be attempted?
As Chelsea had 39 shots that night, perhaps the phrase so famously coined by Mourinho of “parking the bus” is not the best tactic to try and repeat.
The Canaries manager certainly doesn’t have top-level talent such as John Terry, Ramires or Edin Hazard at his disposal for the clash, but can he take a similar approach?
Terry has proved he is very much a Mourinho player, returning to the sort of excellent form which made him England’s captain when Chelsea won the Premier League twice in Mourinho’s first spell at the club.
The 33-year-old centre-back has played every minute of Chelsea’s league campaign so far and given the Blues a solid base upon which to build a title challenge.
So can Norwich captain Sebastien Bassong prove he can be the same kind of foot soldier for Hughton, the man who brought him to Carrow Road?
Can the rest of the Carrow Road squad be inspired by the underdog spirit and rise to the challenge of upsetting a big team at Carrow Road?
It wouldn’t be the first time. Much of the current squad played in the 1-0 home wins against Arsenal and Manchester United last season, as well as in the valiant 4-3 home defeat to Manchester City.
And of course we have the final game of last season, when the Canaries won 3-2 at the Etihad.
Some might say the Citizens’ big-money stars had already turned their attentions to their summer holidays, with Manchester United having already wrapped up the title.
Yet Norwich still played very well on the day and fully deserved the victory, which surprisingly saw them end the season in 11th place in the Premier League table.
So the likes of Bassong, Russell Martin, Alex Tettey, Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington are all well aware of what it takes to secure such an unexpected victory.
After such a disappointing season so far, the Carrow Road faithful may not dare to dream of such a victory – particularly after the 7-0 mauling at the Etihad earlier this season.
The Canaries players may have forgotten that they are capable of such feats as well, but they are, and it’s about time they reminded their thousands of loyal supporters of it.
There is plenty of evidence to prove that beating Manchester City is not Mission Impossible, if you choose to accept it.