Potters boss Tony Pulis went out of his way this week to praise Norwich’s new-look managerial set-up as he celebrated ten years at the helm of Stoke City.
The one-time Gillingham and Bristol Rovers boss has certainly stamped his mark on the Britannia Ground in that time – albeit with one year out before being recalled to Potters managerial duty.
And whilst not everyone might appreciate the manner in which Pulis sets about his task – particularly in terms of playing style – it has kept Stoke firmly in the top flight; they are, whatever anyone says style-wise, supremely effective in the way they play their football.
And have FA Cup Final appearances and European adventures to show for his time at the helm. Equally, Pulis is no fool in the transfer market. He has consistently bought well; the Potters have rarely been caught in the bottom three under his watch.
Tomorrow they roll into Carrow Road with Pulis having caught up with Hughton’s new broom in the mid-week Capital One Cup success over Spurs. He left impressed. Norwich were, he said, building again on the solid foundations left by Paul Lambert.
And in seeking Hughton’s services this summer, they had appointed well.
“Chris is a good manager, a good man and he’s got good people with him,” Pulis told the Stoke Sentinel this week.
“Paul Trollope and Colin Calderwood are good people. They have both managed themselves, so they both know what management is about,” he added, as ‘Team Hughton’ deliver a first Capital One, aka League Cup, quarter-final appearance in 18 years on the back of Wednesday night’s dramatic success.
All of which should keep the punters smiling and the tills ringing.
“The club is set up in a very sound way and they have just taken it on from what Paul (Lambert) left. Chris has done a good job wherever he’s been, but they are fortunate in some respects to take over a football club already well run.”
Hughton returned the compliments. It is no mean feat what Pulis has done over the last decade. The Canary chief knows the challenge that awaits if City are to build on their current, three-game unbeaten run.
“Stoke are really tough opposition, and they are a club that has improved every year since being in the league,” he told the club’s official website.
“The quality of the players that they have brought in is good. They are a hard-working, well-disciplined team with good quality in their side.”
And in ex-Canary loan star Peter Crouch have a player who brings his own special dimension to the game. Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner will need to be on their toes tomorrow.
Team-wise and the one injury question mark is over right-back Russell Martin who disappeared early at Villa Park with a back problem. Ryan Bennett deputised in the second-half; Steven Whittaker was on duty against Spurs. Either could provide a willing alternative if Martin fails to pass a late fitness test.
Hughton was hopeful.
“Russ is in with a chance of playing on Saturday, it depends how his back settles down – he’s made big improvements,” he said.
Otherwise, the expectation would be for the Canaries to field the same starting XI that delivered such unexpected goods against Arsenal and then Villa with Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan continuing up top; Bradley Johnson and Alexander Tettey offering the required legs in the middle of the park.
Meanwhile the Canaries tonight confirmed the details of their Capital One Cup quarter-final clash against Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa.
The tie will take place on Tuesday, December 11 at Carrow Road (7.45pm). Following the heated debate – and the 16,000-odd attendance – for Wednesday night’s fourth round clash with Spurs, tickets for the unexpected reunion gig with Lambert will this time be priced at £25 for adults, £15 for over-65s and £5 for under-16s.
Seats will be available for sale to season ticket holders from 9am on Monday (November 5).