March 11 2014 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Monday, December 9, 2013
Norwich City boss Chris Hughton offered a wry smile in response to whether a 2-0 Premier League win over West Brom was the perfect away day – before admitting it marked a massive step in the right direction.
City returned to Norfolk with a clean sheet and points for only the second time this campaign in the top flight following the early season victory against Stoke. But that was where the similarities ended, with a relatively composed shift in the Potteries far removed from the barrage they had to withstand at the Hawthorns. John Ruddy and City’s much-maligned backline were obdurately resolute prior to Leroy Fer’s late finish that prompted a rare show of emotion from Hughton in the immediate aftermath following Gary Hooper’s first-half opener to set Norwich on their way.
“I think the perfect performance would be not to have put ourselves under so much pressure in that second half but in some ways, yes, I would agree,” said Hughton. “It was the type of game in that second period where they would either get a draw or a win or we were going to break away and get that second one and that is how it panned out. It was the ideal response (after Liverpool) and it had to come from the players because you do not have much opportunity to prepare.
“The moment you allow yourself to get caught up in the doom and gloom of a bad result it doesn’t allow you to push on. We know how poor we were in that game and a reaction doesn’t always guarantee a result, but that is two clean sheets in three matches which is as important to me as anything.”
Hughton has urged his squad to take massive belief from the nature of a hard-fought win founded on defensive solidity.
“We have to take a big belief from this game,” he said. “We have had two good results here and Stoke and probably the performance at Arsenal as well I felt we were excellent on the ball. We need to show what we did here in our good periods for longer spells. There are going to be ups and downs in a season but you have to put yourself in the best position to be in an up and whilst home form has been good, the away form hasn’t. We’ve put things right here after Liverpool.
“We did most of our talking and most of the disappointment was cleared out before we left Liverpool and then the focus was very much on West Brom.”
Hughton opted to keep Hooper in reserve at Anfield until the later stages before unleashing him on the Baggies, where he plundered his fifth goal in 12 appearances with a predatory finish since a summer move from Celtic.
“Gary will score goals if we give him chances and he has a run in the team. We have to provide him with that platform,” he said. “What he is now is physically in good shape. As a striker to get injured that one week before the season makes the early part of the season difficult. His CV and his record shows he is a good finisher but of course he has to have opportunities and we have to be able to feed him and give him a service. He made a good statement before the (Crystal) Palace game that the difference in this league is fewer chances so you certainly have to be more clinical.”