Lack of passion cost Laudrup at Swansea, something which should not be questioned of Chris Hughton at Norwich City
06:30 07 February 2014
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What a test it promises to be for the lads tomorrow, perhaps even greater as Manchester City will be hurting after Jose Mourhino’s tactical brilliance served up their first defeat in 21 games.
Pellegrini and his players will undoubtedly be looking to make amends after the defeat on Monday night.
Mind you, they won’t be hurting as much as the lads were back on November 2 when they were hammered at the Etihad.
As a player you never forget that type of defeat and one day you know you might just get the chance for revenge. For the lads and the fans that day is tomorrow. Nobody will be giving the Canaries a sniff of beating Man City, which can be a positive for the players. There will be no Sergio Aguero, pictured, providing a boost to Chris Hughton and the lads as he’s their finest attacking player. Nonetheless, they’ve still got a rich choice of attacking talent regardless, hence they’ve scored over 100 goals this season.
I’ll be at the South Wales derby tomorrow in what promises to be a massive game. The derby games are always massive but, with both clubs fighting relegation, this one will be just a bit more special. Swansea have home advantage and with the club in freefall having lost six of their last eight games in the league, they really could do with revenge after Cardiff beat then earlier on in the season.
Huw Jenkins, the Swansea chairman, decided that enough was enough on Tuesday night when the club announced they had sacked manager Michael Laudrup. I have to say I’m not surprised as the Swans have been poor since winning the Capital One Cup. He’s been unable to motivate his players over the last few months and his body language suggested to me that his heart wasn’t in the job anymore. For a few weeks now he’s shown no passion on the touchline, in fact some games he hasn’t left his seat in the dugout, so for me it was the right decision.
Whatever people think of Hughton you can’t question his passion and desire for the job. He cares about the club.
Okay, he might not be the most attacking manager Norwich have ever had but he’ll be right up there when it comes to one of the hardest working managers the Canaries have ever had.
Two moments of madness cost City dearly at Cardiff
Two minutes of madness cost the lads dearly on Saturday against Cardiff City.
Even though they were only a goal ahead at half-time, the lads looked so comfortable and in total control. They were so dominant in that first half that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced into making a change on the pitch after just 37 minutes.
He took off Peter Whittingham and brought on new loan signing Wilfried Zaha, who delivered an immediate impact. Zaha was involved in both Cardiff’s goals just after half-time. Only 73 seconds separated both, which would have been a huge disappointment to Chris Hughton.
The scourge of the Canaries last weekend were two former players in the form of Craig Bellamy and David Marshall. Craig brought the home side level after receiving a delightful through ball from that man Zaha. Bellers hadn’t scored at The Cardiff City Stadium since October 2, 2012, so he was well overdue a goal. He took the chance early, which caught John Ruddy a bit by surprise. John, I’m sure, will be disappointed the ball went under his body and into the net.
With that goal Craig became the first player to score for seven different clubs in the Premier League, having found the target for Coventry, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham, Manchester City, Liverpool and Cardiff. Undoubtedly Craig would have had mixed feelings after the game.
He will have been delighted to have scored his first goal of the season and for Solskjaer to have won his first league game since he took charge, but he would have been slightly upset that it was against his former club and one he has very fond memories of when he was a player here.
Seventy-three seconds after Craig’s goal Cardiff took the lead when another one of their January signings scored on his debut for the club. Kenwyne Jones should really have scored with the free header inside Norwich’s six-yard box. Instead, the header rebounded off Ryan Bennett and he reacted quickest to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
In fairness both goals were avoidable. Gary Hooper’s square pass just outside his own penalty box for the first was footballing suicide. We’re told at a very early age that if you pass the ball square you have to make sure it gets to the man it’s intended for. If that pass gets cut out or goes to an opponent then you’re in big trouble.
The second was just poor defending, it’s as simple as that. You can’t let anyone have a free header in your six-yard area. If you do then 99 times out of 100 you concede.
David Marshall for me is one of the best keepers in the league right now. He’s been outstanding for Cardiff since the start of the season, churning out one top class performance after another, and last Saturday was no different. The Scotsman made some brilliant saves, especially in that second half, to keep his side in front.
To be fair to the lads they gave it everything to get back into the game.
They hit the woodwork and had efforts cleared off the goal-line. There was some desperate defending from the Bluebirds in the last 15 minutes, in which Norwich had 14 attempts at goal. However, the lads couldn’t break the Welsh club’s resilient defending.
If the lads can go into the games against West Ham, Aston Villa, Stoke, Sunderland, Swansea and West Brom with the same positive attacking mindset then I’m sure they will pick up enough points to be safe.