December 9 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 24, 2012
Chris Hughton’s Newcastle homecoming was wrecked by one of his own.
The Norwich City chief was warmly welcomed by fans and some of his old players alike at the start of yesterday’s Premier League encounter on his first return to the north-east since his dismissal in December 2010.
Hughton was responsible for originally recruiting Hatem Ben Arfa, but the prodigiously talented midfielder was unable to save Hughton when he suffered a double leg fracture in only the fourth game of his inital loan spell from Marseille.
The 25-year-old suffered a lengthy lay-off from the game which coincided with Hughton’s Tyneside exit, but the French international looks back to his best in the opening month of this Premier League season.
Ben Arfa has already scored against Tottenham and Aston Villa but turned provider to sink the Canaries with a sublime pass threaded to Demba Ba.
Magpies’ chief Alan Pardew eulogised about his playmaker’s world class influence in his post-match interview and Hughton needed no reminding of his former charge’s undoubted quality.
“He scored a wonder goal at Everton for me and then he had the bad injury,” he said.
“Irrespective of today, I am delighted to see him back and playing well and he showed what a class act he is.
“He can do some unbelievable things on the ball and he is back playing his best and having a wonderful season. For me, I guess it was always going to be strange to come back to somewhere where you have been in the other dugout.
“When the whistle went it was about my team performing well and trying to keep a passionate crowd as quiet as we could. The feeling I have for this place will never change, it is a club close to my heart, but it is about a football match.”
Hughton was feted by the home fans in the early stages of the game but the City boss reserved special praise for the travelling die-hards situated in the rafters at the Sports Direct Arena.
“It is a magnificent stadium, with a magnificent support but I thought our supporters deserved a mention as well,” he said.
“They certainly made themselves heard up in the gods. They got behind the team. They have been superb on our three away days.
“It was always one that I looked forward to. The reception I got was excellent and I was absolutely delighted with that.
“What I wanted to do was make it an even better day by getting a result that we probably on the balance of play deserved. My team was trying to get a result and that was always by far the most important thing.”
Perhaps it takes a Premier League victory forged through adversity to view Norwich City in a more reflective light.