City boss Chris Hughton insists that the Canaries will put their best foot forward in tomorrow’s home clash with Queen’s Park Rangers – and finally ‘close down’ last weekend’s opening horror show against Fulham.
At Craven Cottage, the new Canary chief opted to go conservative shape-wise with skipper Grant Holt asked to plough the lone furrow up top until he found Steve Morison for company after the interval.
By then, of course, the Canaries were already two goals adrift and once a third arrived little more than five minutes after the re-start then all such tactical re-jigging counted for nought.
Tomorrow as the Norfolk side look to add to QPR’s August woes following their own, 5-0 home reverse on the opening weekend of the new, English Premier League season, Hughton confirmed that the onus would be on the home side to get at their visitors early – to potentially throw two up front from the start in a bid to get Norwich’s campaign up and running.
“When you’re playing at home, you have to take the initiative,” Hughton said, opening up the door for a possible start for either a Morison or a James Vaughan.
He was making no apologies for adopting something of a cautious approach to that Fulham game; he might – given the eventual scoreline – have gone down all-guns blazing from the start with Holt and AN Other for company.
His response, however, would be to point towards those first 25 minutes of the game when Norwich kept it relatively tight before their defensive walls caved in.
“When you go away from home, the natural response is to do your utmost to try and make sure that you don’t lose the game.
“But when you are at home there is more onus on you to try the game.”
He certainly hopes that last weekend’s humiliation can serve as a massive reminder for all concerned that the Premier League is a wholly unforgiving beast; slip your foot ever so slightly off the pedal and all hell can break loose.
“You can definitely use this type of defeat to galvanise – and to hit home to everybody that you need to play well enough to win football matches.
“If I’d have had a choice, of course I would have preferred not to lose so heavily. I would rather have gone into this game having drawn the game or won the game. But you have to try and use every circumstance to your benefit.”
A short and brutal reminder of the standards that need to be reached if such take-downs are to be avoided on a regular basis.
“My opinion hasn’t changed – I knew it was always going to be a difficult challenge. But it will be a difficult challenge for a group of teams,” said Hughton, with QPR proving that point.
“It’s not a nice period after a defeat for all involved – particularly for me as manager. But you bounce back from that.”
The process of bouncing back has included two fresh faces in the shape of Sabastien Bassong at centre-half and Javier Garrido at left-back.
Whether both will have been deemed to have had enough time in the building to be thrown straight into the fray from the start is just one of the decisions facing Hughton and his coaching team over the next 36 hours.
Elliott Bennett has a slight knock and will require a late test; Robert Snodgrass’ versatility could offer an alternative on either flank leaving the way open for a Morison or a Vaughan to partner Holt.
For Rangers, boss Mark Hughes hasn’t been slow to react to their own, alarming false start although his chase for Spurs’ Michael Dawson – complete with a reported £9 million cheque in tow – appears to have got nowhere.
Djibril Cisse – one of Rangers’ more controversial characters last season – knows that a repeat of last week’s misadventures against the Swans wouldn’t be good news.
“Our dressing room was very sad after the game, but we have to forget about this now,” said the Rangers striker, who at least managed to avoid a red card on his 2012-2013 opener.
“We have to start our season on Saturday against Norwich. We must just show that it was just a mistake and that accidents can happen,” he told the club’s official website. “We must just make sure that we show a different face on Saturday.”