Preview: One Hull of a time for Norwich City to find a Premier League victory
06:10 18 January 2014
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Chris Hughton has had life far from easy for a significant period of his time in charge at Norwich City.
The succession job was always going to be tough. The second half of last season was relentless. But whether it is admitted or not, the atmosphere surrounding the club since Tuesday’s FA Cup defeat at Fulham has been the stickiest patch to date.
Which brings us to Saturday afternoon (3pm) and the visit of a Hull side reminding Canaries fans of what their own side managed on their return to the Premier League – a unified team surprising the established order and knocking all who think they came up from the Championship simply to be swatted back down.
In Steve Bruce, they have a manager busy resurrecting his reputation and with two big January acquisitions, the campaign is already being roundly trumpeted as a success.
At this point it’s worth remembering the expectations the Canaries were facing after a summer of big expenditure. After all, this was the squad that was supposed to kick on Norwich City’s Premier League development – with recruitment that was the most expensive and ambitious in the club’s history.
Whether or not they are fair, those are the reasons why only three points separate the two teams in the table – but the difference in feeling around each club is immeasurable.
City are winless in eight. Hull have one win in eight Premier League games. Yet all the calls are only for Hughton’s head.
“I don’t know (why that is),” said Hughton. “This is our third season back in the division and the club has had two very good finishes in the previous two. Where you’re not getting the results you want you have to stay strong, certainly as a manager, as a team and as a club – because we’re all pushing the in right direction, we all want the same outcome.
“Once you have achieved a position like we have, expectations rise. And when you bring in players like we did in the summer, expectations rise.”
City’s trip to Hull was a horrid occasion – almost a perfect storm as the Tigers’ first home game in the top flight saw them rewarded with a soft penalty and robust defensive effort any side in their position would have relished taking on.
And for the Canaries, it was the first sign that the personnel had changed but the previous season’s issues had remained.
“It’s a game we felt very aggrieved about and we found it very difficult to break them down,” added Hughton. “But that was quite some time ago now. We’ve moved on from that one and we’ve got the opportunity in a home game to put ourselves on level points with them.
“Everybody has looked at what Hull have done this season and spoken about them in very good terms, and rightly so. But that win will put us level on points with them – and that has to be our desire and ambition.”