Norwich City boss Chris Hughton faces former clubs in opening weeks
PUBLISHED: 10:33 19 June 2012
Norwich City's new management team will be heading for old, familiar places in the opening weeks of the 2012-13 Premier League campaign.
The Canaries must wait until late October for their first meeting with former boss Paul Lambert and Aston Villa – but for manager Chris Hughton and his staff, the early weeks of the season provide plenty of reunions of their own.
City kick off their campaign on Saturday, August 18, against Fulham at Craven Cottage – where incoming coach Paul Trollope spent five years as a player – before their first home match against Queens Park Rangers seven days later.
The next three games are all against Hughton’s former clubs, with a trip to Tottenham on September 1, a home match against West Ham on September 15 and a visit a week later to Newcastle, where he was manager until he was sacked 18 months ago.
It will also be a case of revisiting old territory for Hughton’s assistant, Colin Calderwood, who played for Spurs for six years and was part of his coaching team at Newcastle.
Hughton, currently on holiday in Florida, admitted: “It will be special going to Newcastle and Spurs.
“I don’t like to harp on about it too much because it’s not about me, it’s about the team and what’s good for the team, but yes, there is no doubt that those two games have a little bit more meaning to me personally.”
He told City’s official website: “It’ll be a tough game with Newcastle, after what they showed last season. They certainly won’t be letting up, as it was a marvellous season.
“Knowing the club, and knowing the manager, they will be desperate to replicate that.
“I am aware that going to Newcastle was a difficult game last season, and I think for anybody going there this season will be equally as difficult.
“It’s a tough one, but on a personal note I’m looking forward to it, as I am with Tottenham. I have been back to Tottenham as a coach with Newcastle, not as a manager, so that’s one I’m looking forward to, as I’m sure the Norwich fans are after the great result there last season.”
Games against London opponents dominate the early weeks of the season, with six of the first eight matches pitting the Canaries against teams from the capital.
The September and October schedule has a tough look about it, with City facing Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in successive games before they come up against Lambert and his new team at Villa Park on Saturday, October 27.
There is a long wait for the former City manager’s return to Carrow Road, however, on Saturday, May 4, the penultimate home game of the season.
Christmas brings two of City’s most attractive fixtures – a Boxing Day home match against European champions Chelsea and, three days later, the visit of reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. New Year’s Day brings City a trip to West Ham.
Easter Saturday, March 30, takes the Canaries to Wigan, but there is no scheduled Easter Monday fixture.
The final match of the season, scheduled for Sunday, May 19, could hardly be any tougher – away to Manchester City.
Last season’s runners-up, Manchester United, visit Carrow Road on November 17, with the return game at Old Trafford on March 2.
City will be hoping for better fortune at Craven Cottage on the opening day than they enjoyed last season, when they were beaten 2-1, or on their previous visit in 2004-05, when a 6-0 defeat on the final day of the Premiership season condemned them to relegation.
Hughton said it was dangerous to look at some matches as easier than others.
“When you see the fixtures you look at certain areas like the start, and how difficult the finish is, but the reality is that they are all difficult games,” he said.
“You can’t afford to start thinking that certain games will represent an easier period, because sometimes when you do think that way, it smacks you in the face.
“Sometimes the games you expect to win, you don’t, and sometimes the games you don’t expect to win, you can get a result.”