May 25 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Chris Hughton believes Brendan Rodgers is the right man to help restore Liverpool to former glories. He just intends to prolong the renaissance a little while longer.
The Norwich boss drew an interesting parallel between Rodgers’ stylish footballing philosophy and the great Anfield dynasty foundered on the works of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley during his pre-match press briefing ahead of the Reds’ visit.
Rodgers wants panache as well as substance and Hughton applauds the Northern Irishman for retaining his beliefs in a cut-throat business which craves instant results.
“Brendan won’t change the way he wants to play,” said Hughton. “He might occasionally change the formation but in some ways it is in the old Liverpool traditions of pass and move and rotation of positions. Brendan has done that well at all his clubs.
“You can go through the league and there are so many teams who play a different type of football. You could never see Brendan veering away from his philosophy, it is one that is very pleasing on the eye.
“We have to be very respectful to Liverpool. I felt in their last home game against Manchester United they were the better team before the sending off. When you look at their game at Sunderland and the United one at home you have to accept they are going to have good periods of possession and that movement. You have to make sure that doesn’t hurt you and they score goals as well.”
Hughton knows establishing midfield parity is a prerequisite against Rodgers’ men. City are well blessed in a department which was bolstered further with the successful debuts of Jacob Butterfield and Alex Tettey in the midweek Capital One Cup win over Doncaster.
“Jacob is a good footballer and we are pleased for him because it was frustrating during pre-season,” said Hughton. “We always had to keep the bigger picture in mind and although he had been out for a while the original injury is fine now.
“The concern is always that you pick up other injuries off the back of the first one as you work your way back, but the 90 minutes will do him the world of good.
“With Alex we knew he is an all-rounder. He is a high energy player who can operate in a couple of roles. You saw in that last 15 minutes when Doncaster went very direct into the front that he can do the holding role, but because of his energy he is also comfortable breaking forward.
“I think he is ready for the Premier League – this is an international who was playing in the top league in France last season. That is high quality, so I have no doubts. He was on the bench for the Tottenham game but he needed a period of time to train with the team and to feel that he was part of it. He is a smashing lad and more important than the goal was the 90 minutes.”
Hughton was candid enough to admit the Norwegian’s goalscoring potential – as demonstrated by his long range Doncaster missile – is an added bonus.
“I didn’t think I was getting a goal threat. I will have to re-think that one and have a word with my scouts,” he said. “We brought him in because we knew he was someone who could break forward from midfield, but if you see him with the national team they play a three in midfield and he is generally the defensive player.
“I was really pleased for him. It has been a little bit more difficult for him. He came here then went away on international duty and as a foreign player coming into a new club you want that period to settle.
“It was about getting the result and we did that, although we could have made life easier for ourselves. What we had in the formation was two strikers and Chris Martin and Jacob, who also like to strike a ball, so we wanted to test the keeper at every opportunity. I hope we can kick on.
“You like winning football matches and it can become a good habit. There should be a feelgood factor that we can carry from one game to the next.”
Hughton admits City’s cup collective against Rovers turned up the heat on his Premier League personnel.
“You would like to feel that all the players see any game as an opportunity they can seize to make an impression,” he said. “I think we did sufficiently well, we got the result we wanted and we were able to change the team.
“It is difficult when you have a group with players who haven’t maybe played for a number of weeks, so it was testament to them. The application was very good but you look for that every game.
“I want them to impress, to top up their fitness, to prove a point maybe if that is the case as well.”
Elliott Bennett is another who did his own personal cause little harm with an assured display at right-back on his return from a knee problem.
“It was something I asked him in pre-season and I know he has fitted in there last year at that position,” said Hughton. “For me, no doubt, his best position is higher up the pitch as a right-sided midfielder or winger. He definitely has qualities to play at right-back so that is always a good option – either starting and dropping back if that is what is required in a game. He is certainly someone who is reasonably natural slotting back there. He has quality and pace and he is better for us in a more advanced position when he can threaten and cause problems.”
Hughton delivered a mixed Liverpool pre-match injury bulletin. Striker Harry Kane is definitely out after damaging his right foot in the midweek cup success.
Midfielder Anthony Pilkington (back) and defender Sebastien Bassong (hamstring) had only a slim chance of being involved, but Scottish defenders Simon Lappin and Steven Whittaker will both re-join first team training next week.
“Simon won’t have any involvement this weekend, but he is back training. Steven, we expect to train next week,” said Hughton. “The good news with Bassong is it is going to be nowhere near what we feared it could turn out to be – particularly when a player goes off so early in a match. If those two do have a chance it will probably be an outside one.”