Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Monday, March 3, 2014
Chris Hughton admitted Norwich City had no case for the defence after Aston Villa blitzed his side in a first half demolition job at Villa Park.
Wes Hoolahan’s close range finish was the perfect opening salvo, but it was Paul Lambert’s men who took control with Christian Benteke’s brace and Leandro Bacuna’s tidy slot rocking the Canaries before Sebastien Bassong’s own goal sealed their Premier League fate in the West Midlands. Hughton accepted the manner of City’s surrender was totally out of sync with his team’s recent defensively assured offerings.
“Of course this result and the manner of it is a concern but we have been on the back of some good defensive displays and we had come into the game on the back of a good Tottenham result. Right at this moment it is a really body blow for us,” said Hughton. “I will have to take it on the chin as a manager. As the manager I have to accept any criticism that comes my way. That is normal and you have to lick your wounds. Unfortunately for us we now have a number who will go away on international duty and we will not see them probably until Thursday.
“Once we get them all together we have to make sure we put ourselves in the best possible position to win a home game next Saturday (against Stoke City). “This is a sore one. You have to assess it honestly and say we weren’t good enough. That is a fact and we were well-beaten. That can happen and it is how you can respond. It is difficult to take because this is not one I saw coming.”
Hughton was at a loss to explain how City had capitulated in the face of Villa’s powerful surge.
“For 25 minutes I thought we played very well. We started the game well, got a goal and could have got a second,” he said. “One thing you have to do when you come here, because they can get a crowd behind them, is you have to quieten that crowd and we certainly did that. “But in a 15 minute period we conceded the one goal and they turned up the power and pace and we couldn’t handle it for that period. If you can’t handle it you have to make sure you don’t concede and in a bad period for us we, of course, conceded the goals and at that stage there’s no coming back from that.”
Benteke’s 25th minute overhead kick opened the floodgates.
“For a manager you always look at how we could have prevented it,” said Hughton. “I am sure many will view it as a brilliant goal from a top striker but at that stage you have to be able to weather the storm. They raised their game and you have to be able to stand up to it. We couldn’t and the game was over.
“On his day he is as good as any striker and these can counter-attack as well as anybody and we suffered from that.
“We should have done better. You can’t allow them to play the type of balls in, particularly to somebody with the power he has got, but as defenders we’ve got to deal with that better. It’s part and parcel of the game and there is no doubt when he is on top form he is an exceptional player but you have to cope with those things. Even at 2-1 we have to gather as a team and make sure that at 2-1 we stayed in the game. You have to consolidate, but we didn’t and their pace took over from that moment.”