If you want to know just how good a manager Norwich City now have at the helm, listen to the reception Chris Hughton will be afforded by Newcastle’s public this weekend.

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Hughton will make what must surely be an emotional return to the north-east for the first time since he was relieved of his duties by the Magpies’ hierarchy in December 2010.

A decision that still baffles Hughton to this day. Nor is he alone. Newcastle were heading south at an alarming rate when he took permanent control from Alan Shearer after the Toon legend was unable to avert their descent into the Championship.

Newcastle slipped out of the Premier League burdened by a huge wage bill and a fervent support at odds with the owner. The Norwich chief was a unifying force. A port in the storm. A rallying point to such an extent Newcastle powered back to the top flight at the first attempt.

Accumulating more than 100 league points on the way and remaining unbeaten all season at the ground they used to call St James’ Park before Mike Ashley sanctioned a bizarre corporate makeover.

Hughton should have been bullet-proof. But this is Newcastle. Less a football club, more a soap opera. Just weeks after hammering Sunderland 5-1 in a Tyne/Wear home derby win, Hughton was gone, with Newcastle comfortably ensconced in mid-table as they eased their way back into Premier League life.

Now hindsight is a wonderful tool. Alan Pardew’s elevation to the post has proved to be something of an inspired appointment as he guided United into European competition last season.

Newcastle’s transfer dealings are the envy of many rival clubs with astute business enticing the likes of Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye to the north-east.

But even Pardew himself acknowledged the debt he owed Hughton when he picked up his manager-of-the-year gong at the end of the previous campaign.

Without Hughton’s fire-fighting act, Newcastle could have been just another of the fallen giants who roam the Championship. Losing ground with each passing year. Cut off from the financial riches afforded to the elite.

Hughton has had a positive effect on every club he has worked out since calling time on an illustrious playing career. Alongside Martin Jol at Spurs, the duo turned Tottenham into a genuine top five outfit after decades spent flattering to deceive. Life after Newcastle took him to Birmingham.

Another perennial under-achiever weighed down with expectations and instability in the boardroom. Hughton took a transfer-embargoed club to the Championship play-offs and within one win of the knockout stages of the Europa League. A remarkable body of work given the constraints he was forced to operate in.

There are those Norwich supporters who will have feared the worst when Paul Lambert departed. You can understand the concerns given the joy ride he and his coaching staff triggered; when the sky literally felt within touching distance on a heady ascent from the lower reaches of League One.

Lambert seemingly appeared a force of nature at times. A magnetic personality who inspired fierce loyalty among a group of players who owed their elevated status to his alchemist’s touch.

It will take considerably longer than a matter of months for the transition to be complete. Hughton is not just trying to accumulate points but assimilate new players into the squad he inherited from the Scot.

Lambert and Hughton are chalk and cheese - as individuals, as characters, as managers – but both have proven methods that work.

Contrast Lambert’s urgings from the technical area with the impassive, calm way Hughton surveys the scene on a matchday. Lambert always gave the impression he was an intuitive operator; someone who viewed the management game through the eyes of a player.

Hughton is a studious manager, the product perhaps of greater experience at the coalface allied to an even temperament which combines in a cooler, more calculated approach.

He is also his own man. If you can follow in the footsteps of Shearer on Tyneside then stepping into Lambert’s shadow in Norfolk will hardly faze him. Hughton was quick to recognise and embrace Lambert’s successes when he was unveiled during the summer. But he also displays a rock solid inner belief in his own ability.

Norwich’s displays during the opening month of the new Premier League season serve to illustrate the difference. Lambert’s vintage were more expansive, less secure at the back. Hughton openly admitted he got it wrong at Fulham, but the response since tells you everything.

After the ‘gung ho’ nature of Lambert’s reign built on an attacking philosophy and fearless gambler’s instinct, Hughton’s more circumspect, more measured outlook may take time to distil itself among players and supporters. But it works.

Just ask those Newcastle fans who will hail him as a returning hero this coming Sunday.

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16 comments

  • He is only as good as the people who play for him, and right now it looks like he needs a little more striking power... from what I understand there is another young Arsenal player who want to go out on loan... last one City got from them turned out pretty fair... maybe he should take a lookiesee...

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    canuk

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • statistics prove little, at the moment no team has scored .less goals in this seasons prem, and only 5 have let in more .I haven't got a clue what it proves except its a fact

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    wivenhoebudgie

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • i am not with these doom and gloom merchants who have started hammering hoots and the players.give them another week or two and you will see that we will start to gell and the whiners will change there tune.onwards and upwards.otbc.

    Report this comment

    bluelight

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • Aarrrrrr . . . . "White Carrot" . . Maigret, Morse, Regan, Poirot, Holmes, Lewis. Whatever you see yourself. Think you've uncovered a sinister plot, mmmmm?.You go on thinking that way chum. I smile. Looking forward to your next Masterclass in formations, tactics & strategy - Sir, I'm in awe(?)

    Report this comment

    Dissaster

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • Dissaster-(Mad Brewer) or whatever you are calling yourself today, its about strategy. Aways make sure your back is covered, before going ahead with the next part of your plan. At this stage, I just wonder why so little has been heard under the psuedonym Mad Brewer of late.

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    Pa Snipps

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • I think it's fascinating to see the transition. But I do worry whether we have a midfiled capable of scoring the goals we need. Johnson may tighten things up, and he may have a powerful shot, but he can't keep it down or on target enough. Anyway, let's see, if no win in the next two then there has to be some changes I would have thought with Fox back in for Johnson and Hoolahan for Surman...

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    Surrey Canary

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • @Peter. You could well be right-ish - thinking? Please don't give this board, yet another talisman - yeeez! If City are to succeed, and it is folks an 'IF', a number of things need to come together. This is a TOUGH division, be under no illusion. The team, the squad, needs to assimilate the Hughton doctrine, fast. Sure, not as 'showy' as the former regime (falling apart at the latter stages?), but, one that can survive. Yes, I like CH, I rate him, and, I will continue to support him. Oh, fortune - lady-luck has her part to play, makes up a number?

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    Dissaster

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • The one stat from last season that continues into this is that if Holt does not score City do not win.This suggests an over-reliance on one player-similar to the Iwan Roberts scenario.All the other outfield players,not just the strikers,need to start scoring goals.

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    Peter Watson

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • For me, this is a good, balanced, and well researched article. I have no doubt it will be chewed by some, particularly the 'silver bullet Hoolahan' mega fan club. Let me say it now, quite clearly and unequivocally, I like and rate Wes, I just don't think that without him, our ship is becalmed - the team impotent. There are more ways than one, to skin a cat. As Grandma used to say. We just need to get the balance right, attack & defence?

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    Dissaster

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • I have never been a follower of bestowing a talisman crown to any particular player, nobody in a working situation, is in any way irreplaceable. What cannot be argued, is that last season we scored more than anyone outside the top six, also, we conceeded more than anyone other than the relegated clubs. That folks, is cast in stone - it's a fact. Now, time for opinion, up for debate? I think Lambert's attack minded strategy was beginning to seriously unravel, once the surprise had gone, we became sussed, as the second half of the season bears testament to - relegation form? You build from the back, I am not aware of any top coach -ever -thats chosen the opposite route.

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    Dissaster

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • People easily forget we had a very poor record in our last 15 games under Lambert...Hughton has to tighten that up. Lambert knew his time was up here as he could not have continued such success, he's no mug (the only people who believe he could, are those who delude themselves we had to keep him to stay up - inc. pundits).

    Report this comment

    JimBob

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • Statistics prove much, however, they can and will manipulate minds, when and if presented in a particular way. I choose not to man the lifeboats, just yet. There is time a'plenty to scream and shout, calling for CH to be led to the scaffold, for the despicable crime of not following, the faultless strategy and team selection of the Villa Messiah. Not to mention the devoted followers of his unfailing tactical nous.

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    Dissaster

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • Once you get to Xmas , you can assess how good a job CH is doing . As long as he gets enough points to keep City up , and keep the Mega Millions coming in , he`s done his job ..... as for why Newcastle sacked him , as I`ve said before , it was alleged that he let senior players have too much control at the club .

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    dragonfly

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

  • Hughton has a point to prove to those in charge at NU. He will be plotting our first win of the season, and if we play to our very best I think he might just pull it off. OTBC!!

    Report this comment

    Mellow_Yellow

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • I have never been a follower of bestowing a talisman crown to any particular player, nobody in a working situation, is in any way irreplaceable. What cannot be argued, is that last season we scored more than anyone outside the top six, also, we conceeded more than anyone other than the relegated clubs. That folks, is cast in stone - it's a fact. Now, time for opinion, up for debate? I think Lambert's attack minded strategy was beginning to seriously unravel, once the surprise had gone, we became sussed, as the second half of the season bears testament to - relegation form? You build from the back, I am not aware of any top coach -ever -thats chosen the opposite route.

    Report this comment

    Dissaster

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  • Totally agree but we seem to be firing blanks. Having said that how many of us would take a nil - nil draw against the toon this weekend?

    Report this comment

    JMH

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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