Saturday, August 18, 2012
Chris Hughton is still getting to know his Norwich City players but he will recognise a familiar face across the technical area today at Craven Cottage.
The new Canaries’ chief indirectly has Fulham counterpart Martin Jol to thank for arriving in Norfolk earlier this summer with the task of building on the achievements of his predecessor.
Hughton’s big break in his post-playing career at Tottenham came when Jol promoted him to assistant manager after a decade on the White Hart Lane coaching staff.
The duo guided Spurs to consecutive top five finishes in the Premier League before things turned sour for the Dutchman. Hughton opted to strike out on his own at Newcastle and then Birmingham. The rest is history, but it is the present that will occupy Hughton’s thoughts with his new club aiming for a flying start.
“At this particular moment they have a very good friend of mine who was outstanding in his time at Tottenham,” he said. “I had three enjoyable years with Martin and I worked very closely with him.
“We were very successful at Tottenham where we had two fifth-placed finishes during that spell and I learned a lot from him. He has played a very good role for me in my career.
“I learned what it took to be a good manager; to be on the training pitch every day and the tactical side of things. I would like to think that he is somebody who was good with the players, who had high demands and wanted to play the game in an attractive manner. He is a winner, he wants to win games and he has been successful wherever he has been.
“They (Fulham) have had good players and good managers down the years and if I look at them over a period of time they have been able to attract a better level of player to the club.”
Sentiment will not enter the equation as Hughton looks to build on a solid pre-season grounding for the Canaries.
“It is always nice to get off to a good start. But you don’t have to win your first game to see lots of good things that will inspire you going into the next set of games,” he said.
“Results are never the be all and end all. If you are getting a series of poor results then that of course is something that has to be addressed. It is about getting everything in place to make sure you are consistent enough to pick up enough points.
“Since the first day I was approached to do the job and have come in there has certainly been a feelgood factor. There would be something wrong if that wasn’t the case because this club has fared so well in the last few seasons on the back of a very good season last season.”
Hughton’s starting line up this afternoon offers a key signal of intent early in his Norwich reign. Another will come in the man selected to lead them out at Craven Cottage.
The City boss insists leadership qualities throughout the whole squad are more important than the holder of the armband.
“We are not short of strong characters or strong individuals that know the game well,” he said. “I know with Paul last season and Grant (Holt) being captain he didn’t always play and that is not a bad thing because it means others have to show leadership qualities.
“It doesn’t need to be screaming or shouting, it can be leading by example and I know whoever the captain is on any given occasion it is about what the team show. It doesn’t have to be someone necessarily who is vocal, but you hope you have 11 of them on the pitch.
“I haven’t at any stage quoted who the captain will be. We’ll probably have to wait until Saturday for that. It is not something I have brought up with the players and they should be the first to know.”