May 18 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Chris Hughton accepts the inevitable comparisons between Norwich and Southampton but knows the significance of remaining one step ahead in the Premier League.
The Saints’ rapid progress from League One has mirrored the Canaries’ own ascent from the lower reaches since 2010 on the back of double promotions which had not previously been achieved for over a decade.
Southampton arrive at Carrow Road this afternoon five points and three places behind and Hughton insists it is vital to accentuate the differences.
“I think they fall into the same category as us last season and perhaps even this time round as well,” he said. “We are both playing in a tough division and they are still going through the learning processes of what it takes. I think the two clubs share a lot of similarities. Geographically, they both have strong local support and of course the pathways of the two clubs on the pitch have been very similar.
“For the likes of ourselves we looked at perhaps West Brom, Stoke and Wigan who have had stability at this level over a number of years and perhaps looking even further beyond those three to the likes of Everton who are an incredibly well-run club, with stability from the manager that brings consistency every season. We are certainly striving for the same things.”
Hughton’s own personal story finds an echo with the surprise managerial upheaval at St Mary’s that saw Nigel Adkins deposed after guiding the south coast club to the Premier League in favour of Mauricio Pochettino.
Hughton endured a similar sour end to his time at Newcastle and those parallels are not lost on the City chief.
“At that time there was a lot of surprise that I lost my position but I suppose it emphasises what a difficult job this is,” he said. “It is something that you know is going to happen in the game and when it does then it is about how you recover from it. Nigel will come back far better from having gone through that experience. I suppose there was a big surprise because of the job he had done. After two successful promotions it is very difficult to be successful in your first season in the Premier League, but, no, it wasn’t a surprise in the sense that is the game; that is what happen these days. Nigel wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last.
“Unfortunately that is part and parcel of it. I wouldn’t say it is one we accept but certainly one we expect. He did an outstanding job over the period of time he was there. In any change of manager you tend to see a change in philosophy but they still have an open, attractive style of play which is what they were all about under Nigel.”
Hughton knows Norwich will again have to nullify a side packed with attacking intent after a merited point in the corresponding Premier League fixture earlier this season.
“They have real quality and they have spent big on players. We have to make sure we are aware of that and we have to be guarded against it,” he said. “They have good ammunition and two players in central midfield with a lot of energy and they have invested big money on (Gaston) Ramirez, £12m or so, and (Jay) Rodriguez. We are up against a team with a lot good offensive options who can certainly score goals and have a freedom about the way they play and an aggression with good players.
“They are a team in very good form. We have seen in recent games at Newcastle and Manchester United their form has been very good and you look at their performance against QPR and it was very good. Perhaps the results have not gone as well, but we will prepare the same as we would for any tough game.”
City overcame Everton at Carrow Road last time out and Hughton is confident they can scale those same heights again.
“We are on the back of a good result at home against a top team. We have lost only three (league) games at home this season,” he said. “I have a very dedicated group of players who generally can not be faulted for a lack of effort going into every game.
“As a manager if you can look at your players and are confident they have given everything in a game you know you will get more good than bad results.”