Hughton does deserve more time, but the club needs a Plan B both on the pitch and in the boardroomSat 28 Sep 13 by James Kent
There is no doubt that Chris Hughton is under a certain amount of pressure after spending £25 million on new players and securing only one league win so far this season. That pressure is further intensified by a poor away record, tactics that are considered negative and a manager that at times struggles to motivate his team or lacks an ability to change a match.
It seemed that Hughton was going to be asked some further searching questions with his side 2-0 down in the cup against Watford. But the Canaries managed a stunning comeback on that occasion thanks to Gary Hooper and Josh Murphy. It was certainly a sign that the team spirit in the camp is alive and well with away wins not being a complete impossibility.
Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that the manager needs to be judged on league results, and the upcoming game against Stoke City on Sunday is what is really important. There is an argument that the Watford win will have increased the confidence in the team ahead of this important league match, and that is obviously a very good thing.
But let’s not underestimate the pressure that the manager will be under if Norwich lose another away game with a dire performance again. There are those that are very much against the man continuing to be in charge, but equally there are also those that think we should simply give him more time. I am personally not in either camp at the moment and think both side has a very strong arguments.
The influx of new players over the summer is certainly an interesting one and brings different schools of thought with it. On one side, there is the suggestion that the team should perform better due to having better quality players available. But some people may argue that those players have not yet had the time to gel, so it’s too early to judge.
In general, I like Hughton and certainly feel he deserves some time to turn things around, but time is a commodity that football managers are seldom afforded. I think he deserved more recognition for the job that he did last season. At the time, we needed someone to steady the ship and improve the defensive side. He certainly managed to do that and the club therefore benefitted.
Nevertheless, I often feel it’s very dangerous when is difficult to see forward progression at a football club. I know this is the Premier League, and it’s very difficult, but I look at the likes of Southampton and Swansea and see them as much more progressive football clubs even though we are similar in size to them.
And Norwich City have shown plenty of progression in the transfer market this summer, but we have to seriously wonder if Hughton is progressive enough to move us forward, looking at the way he plays his football it has to be a legitimate concern. Whatever side of this debate you sit, it’s naïve to think that David McNally hasn’t already drawn up a potential list of replacements, because that is simply what a progressive chief executive does.
I know a lot of people in the pro Hughton camp often refer to who else is out there. And I do agree with this to a point because there aren’t many managers in the Championship that would be a massive upgrade on Hughton.
However, I have to worry about the situation that simply states that we don’t want to sack Hughton based on a lack of replacements. I also think that the potential scope for the next Norwich City manager is a much wider than most people consider. I would like to refer back to the examples of Southampton and Swansea to make this point.
Both of those clubs chose to go down the risky road of appointing foreign managers, but thus far it has worked out a treat for them. Norwich want the best players and should apply the same kind of thinking to the manager.
Now just to clarify, I am not necessarily saying that we should sack our current manager, but we should consider it. And if McNally does decide to wield the axe he shouldn’t play it safe and it’s my personal opinion that we should appoint a foreign manager at this point.
Hughton has certainly served us well, but I do worry that he has a ceiling on where he can take us. I also share those concerns on being more attacking, motivating the players and influencing a match. I think we have a very good chance of attracting a good foreign coach and have plenty here for him to work with.
We know how ruthless McNally can be, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a change made if we were to lose against Stoke, and in any case we must now have a contingency plan that is in the best interests of Norwich City.
Josh Murphy and Gary Hooper impressed against Watford, and it will be interesting to see if they can do enough to keep Hughton in the job a little longer.