Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Chris Hughton will simply ask his Norwich City players for a repeat of their opening day efforts against Everton in Saturday’s Premier League return at Goodison Park.
Only struggling Sunderland have taken maximum Premier League points from the Toffees at their home fortress this season, with Roberto Martinez’s squad now genuine contenders for Champions League football. Hughton knows the statistics better than most and what it will take to avoid fresh Merseyside misery after their forgettable trip across the other side of Stanley Park before Christmas.
Hughton’s optimism is rooted in improved league results away from Carrow Road and a pulsating showing in a 2-2 top flight draw back in August.
“Most people would expect them to win the game. We can’t go with that type of mentality,” he said. “We are in good away form and mentally we are in a better place to go there now. Our responsibility is to make sure we give a good account of ourselves and look to pull off an upset.
“We were good value for a point at home because that was an indication of how Everton were going to progress. Roberto has a way of playing and it is always a hard system to set-up against. They are very expansive and it is difficult to close them down in every area.
“It was a highly-entertaining game and we need to be every bit as close to them again as we were on that day. Roberto has taken on a super group of lads but he has brought his own philosophy. You are also relying on players to accept that and embrace it. He has also made two very good loan signings in (Gareth) Barry and (Romelu) Lukaku and bought well and moulded a very good squad.”
Hughton insists Martinez inherited an enviable legacy from David Moyes with the likes of Ross Barkley now blossoming after being nurtured in Everton’s well-respected academy.
“I remember speaking to David Moyes a few years ago and David said what a special talent this boy was but there always comes a period when they come of age if you like,” said Hughton. “He went out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday last season but he looks an incredibly exciting prospect for Everton and England. I think what Roberto has done is continue the good work of David over the years.
“Roberto has introduced a different system and the players have taken to it and they are having a very, very good season, but David should be applauded for the club and the team he left behind. They are a very good side, particularly at home, but it is a challenge for us.”
Hughton recognises the immediate impact of a positive result at Everton.
“Over the last five games if I look at the level of performance probably Fulham on Boxing Day in the second half is the one that disappoints me,” he said. “If you look at the away games we could have won at Sunderland and Crystal Palace, but a draw is never a bad result away from home. We know when we look at the table that we are part of a group of teams who perhaps in some cases have spent bigger or are more established, and we are striving to get away from the current position and make life more comfortable for ourselves.”