Norwich City trapped in a cycle of desperation

Norwich City's Robert Snodgrass cuts a frustrated figure in the 2-0 Premier League defeat at Everton. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Norwich City's Robert Snodgrass cuts a frustrated figure in the 2-0 Premier League defeat at Everton. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Monday, January 13, 2014
11:40 AM

Norwich City’s Premier League season is drifting aimlessly. Everton was just another depressingly familiar episode.

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"No wins in seven since a trip to the Hawthorns is not a trend, it is a decline and those inside the club know just as well as those on the terraces it can not continue."

Paddy Davitt

The Canaries were similarly subservient at Tottenham and Newcastle, but recent away assignments hinted they were now a competitive commodity on the road. Defeat at Goodison Park marked a regressive step that stirs up the debate on whether Chris Hughton remains the right man to guide them into less troubled waters and whether a squad embellished by a record summer transfer outlay is able to accomplish a task that grows more difficult with each passing week.

On this evidence you fear the worst on both counts. Norwich were compliant for 70 minutes, bar the odd glimpse of Tim Howard’s goal, before rousing themselves following the exits of both Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman. It is hardly a coincidence City’s most productive spell came once Roberto Martinez elected to withdraw two of his most creative attacking midfielders.

Hindsight exposes Hughton’s decisions to levels of scrutiny one must temper with the fact. Everton looked the same slick outfit who produced such a polished performance at Carrow Road on the opening day of a Premier League season that held so much promise for both clubs.

City proudly unveiled a club record signing who delivered on his debut with a fantastically improvised header to salvage a point in a stirring encounter where Everton’s smooth passing rhythms had again been the dominant theme, but Norwich deserved some reward for the efficiency of their own incursions.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s career during the intervening months may have been disrupted by injury, yet it was painfully evident as he found himself marooned in areas of the pitch far away from Everton’s penalty box, that the predatory striker toiling at Goodison Park looks bereft of confidence; much like his team-mates. Everton were just as ambitious and progressive as in the corresponding league fixture, but Norwich never carried the same counter-punching menace.

Hughton paired the Dutchman in tandem with Gary Hooper from the start for the first time in the Premier League in a bid to suffocate Everton at source, but the Toffees merely played higher up the pitch and down the channels, where they are as strong as any in the league through the urgings of modern-day full-backs such as Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman.

City’s twin-pronged spearhead were isolated figures, detached from a visiting midfield out-numbered and unable to stem the flow as they were pinned back on the perimeter of John Ruddy’s penalty area. Gareth Barry felt suitably emboldened by the Canaries’ fitful attacking impetus to vacate his holding berth and advance unhindered before unleashing a venomous left-footed strike that flew past a sprawling Ruddy.

You can apportion blame should you wish. Whether to Hughton’s tactical nous, Leroy Fer’s seeming reluctance to sense danger or Ryan Bennett’s decision not to engage Barry higher upfield, but they are all symptoms of a greater malaise.

Norwich willingly ceded territory and possession from the outset as part of their tactical approach so it should have come as little surprise they were dismissively brushed aside. They looked dis-jointed and at times disinterested.

Verbal spats erupted all too frequently between players in yellow and green which, in a narrower context, could be packaged as a desire to fight the good fight, but which leave themselves open to less generous interpretations of a squad wracked by frustration.

That is the sour by-product of days like these on Merseyside. When City capitulate so easily - even in the face of superior opposition - the negative aspects of a gruelling season gain renewed currency. Any positivity from battling points at Sunderland or Crystal Palace, even the West Brom win, merely dissolve in rancour and recrimination.

Hughton expects to be judged on results, not how he achieves them, despite the misleading stylistic debate, and on that specific measure the manager and his players are failing at present. No wins in seven since a trip to the Hawthorns is not a trend, it is a decline and those inside the club know just as well as those on the terraces it can not continue.

Norwich now face another in an endless line of home tests where they must prevail not simply to boost their points tally but to raise collective morale. Few may have expected anything other than a defeat at Goodison Park but it was the complicit nature that hardly inspires confidence ahead of Hull City’s visit.

Norwich’s response has been wonderfully robust when they have found themselves in this situation before, with priceless home wins over both West Ham and Crystal Palace, but Fulham’s Boxing Day success is fresher in the memory.

City’s chronic injury problems are justifiable mitigation for their listless labours during recent times but it feels increasingly like an excuse than a contributory factor. Norwich were always going to be one of a clutch of teams fighting for survival. Those grounds for optimism recede with each fresh opportunity spurned and signs of flickering resistance elsewhere from their rivals.

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44 comments

  • Lets face it we will never be a force in the Premier League, our geographical position puts us and Ipswich in no mans land, If Sky had there way they would cut a line from London to the North. We will better off if the Championship, at least we can win there.

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    Derek McDonald

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • It is with sadness that I agree completely Malaga. Its all about the attitude and approach from the players for me that is indictive of everything that is wrong. Why are they short of confidence, why are they short of motivation. Its the stifling, damage limitation tactics that prevail over the team. No matter whether we play a seemingly more offensive formation, or a seemingly defensive - the only thing that gets us results is when we have a go at teams. By sitting back and conceding possession and grass to the opponents for so long we weaken our forward player's confidence and strengthen the opposition's. Not calling for gung-ho tactics, just something in between. Something that gives us a flipping chance.

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    MancCanary

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Mattias - you are right but it's worse than you say. Hughton relied on a midfield of Snodgrass, Johnson and Garrido. Ye Gods: no right side, no pace, no passing. no nothing. Who on this planet, other than Hughton, would select this trio in their midfield to create chances? The justification for Garrido: he played well against Fulham. Anyone who saw that game will know that Fox was head and shoulders above Garrido (no surprise there) and is exactly what they are missing: a passer, who can release the ball long and short and crucially he can do it quickly. Hughton is so stubborn in his selection: he should have gone at the end of last season: he has to go now.

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    CharlieCrickless

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • So change the manager then......hes the man responsible and do it before the window shuts so we don't end up with any more wolfs!!

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    dave123

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Before we jump out of the frying pan and into the fire I have a question to ask.. what are Hughton's strengths that we might lose if he were to leave? For example: calmness under pressure, good connections and experience. And please NEVER say we would be better off in the Championship... after 13 years out of 15 there I would happily never see it again.. in fact even Division 1 was better than that... supporting a club in the Championship is like sitting in a dentist waiting room, with toothache, for eternity.

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    jops

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • two home games could change the story is a valid point. But how many times has this excuse been issued now? Seems everytime we lose were told the same rubbish. What evidence is there we can suddenly win two home games.

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    Mattias333

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • The filter system is very odd indeed! Through trial and error of removing certain words I found my posting wasn't being displayed this morning because I mentioned a certain social media sites name. Yet other times I see multiple messages with many curse words in them seemingly typed by a teenager.

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    Mattias333

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • lol @ Mad! In reference to Andy's comments I agree. The current 12 months of evidence only points to further decline instead of any sort of 3 game, 2 game or 1 game winning run. Just seems totally the same as when we played West Ham at home. Everyone said it was a must win or Hughton was gone. We scraped through that game....just....and all the Hughton fans were happy, "oh we've turned the corner".....we have not though. We've continued the exact same pattern the last 12 months have shown us. Win the odd game although not in convincing fashion then return to underperforming ways of getting the odd draw and rolling over losing in the rest.

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    Mattias333

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • God the only one who can help us now!!!

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    Chris Butcher

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Only positive news ive heard regarding NCFC is Malky saying he wont be taking another football job anytime soon as legal action regarding Cardiff prevents that. Not that we will get rid of Hughton anytime soon rather oddly. I cant think of any other side that would put up with even 25% of the 12 months of decline we've suffered.

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    Mattias333

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • It was Barry not Baines but the point is valid and correct. We keep letting goals in like Barry's. Mentioned it leading up to that goal that our midfield was sinking deeper, deeper and deeper. Was the minutes leading up to that goal again and were virtually playing a back 8 rather that 4. Losing count how many times we let goals in like that only to hear people deem it "nothing you could do about that".....because yes there is something you could've done....close the player down and not allow him to gentle job 20 yards and have a free pop at goal!

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    Mattias333

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • suffolkcanary you are spot on. End of really, except to say that if Hughton has been allowed to waste - and I mean waste - three million quid on the has-been Gutierrez Hughton will be staying to the bitter end. Along with Bewilderwood and Trollope (how apt) Chris Hughton has ruined our club. Where is your backbone Mr McNally?

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    el dingo

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Brew yes I think you have something there. He got lucky. If we had lost at home to eg. Yeovil or Swindon that day ,rather than Colchester ,then Lambert would not have been on his radar.

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    Steely Dan

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • There is a lot of sense in this piece. But I'm just watching Villa hardly play at all. Swansea have gone 9 without a win. When we talk of the Lambert days it was in a different wold of Championship and Div 1. The fact is the Prem bottom 11 are all packed together. I loved the Lambert days but, in his unemotional way, he knew what it would be like. He's not that dumb. So whether CH stays or goes, we'll keep in that bottom 11 for some time yet. Who else our size isn't?

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    Stopper

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Hard to disagree with most posters on here, NCFC and others, regarding quality of football, tactics and the missing wow factor. However, it’s interesting to see that normally vociferous Board members and the CE are conspicuously quiet. They have all done a fantastic job to save and then turn the club around since the dark days of Div One, especially Mr McNally who is nothing short of a genius. However, football is subservient to business acumen and survival. We can moan all we like, but as long as we scrape in with 0.001 of a goal difference and avoid relegation, the business carries on. I think it will. Whether that’s the footie quality of Ian Crook, Graham Paddon, Martin Peters, Ted MacD, or Mike Walker’s management, and certainly Paul Lambert’s and Ian Culverhouse’s drive to win – well that’s a money decision, not a footballing decision. Who’d be a Board member? I just wish we could pick up points against the lesser teams and make it all just go away. As for replacing the manager - why and who? Malky and Cardiff were where, exactly. Other names would want how much exactly? And have done what in their CV, as opposed to No2 to somebody else. Get behind CH, he's the Board's pick - money talks nowadays, not the Roy of the Rovers stuff anymore.

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    Les Lee

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Sorry but Hughton is taking Canaries down, he probably is a nice guy but not a good manager. The players were shocking for 70 minutes at Everton, let's face it if most of us could achieve the level of physical fitness required it would be fab to play in a PL game but this lot look as miserable as a wet weekend, looked beaten before they started. The Board will be culpable if City go down Hughton had a shocking 2013 and this year isn't looking too hot. Norwich have only 13 games left as the last four are against the top sides so Hughton needs wins not draws or defeats. 20 points from 13 games is a big ask.

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    Simon Thetford

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Derek, you come across even more negatively than CH. Geography is a tired old excuse, I have seen it used by fans supporting North East, Welsh, South Coast and Humberside teams. Even fans from the North West, moan that players prefer London. We don't live in the 18th century, It doesn't take that long, even from East Anglia to get to other places. Whats Sky got to do with anything?

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    Abraham

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Norwich are trapped, like 50% of the teams in the premier league, in a game of survival. They cannot match the rich boys at the top and the mid table specialists so therefore scrap amongst the remainder for the points to stay up. Stark choice for the supporters: Watch week on struggle for survival that top flight or play in the league below to strive to get promoted to struggle. Sky only see teams like Norwich as cannon fodder for the top half dozen.

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    NigelS

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • This is well balanced and reasoned argument. The comments posted are also generally well reasoned. Given the amount that was spent in the summer, we all hoped for much more. Both supporters and players have been badly let down by a manager whose decision making is ever more questionable. The reactions of players demonstrate to me that they do not have confidence in him either. He must go, regardless of the result against Hull, as even if we do win, who has confidence that we can sustain a good run???

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    andy

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Hughton logic: If Playing a bellow average (in terms of quality) Palace side in awful conditions on a shocking pitch. He plays Wes Hoolahan the technical lynch pin of NCFC. Then against an Everton side known for playing some really good attacking passing football using a 5 man midfield we play 2 upfront? We struggle to create for 1 upfront let alone taking another out of the midfield and creating minimal chances for 2. There are games that 2 up front will work very well. Just seems Hughtons judgement is consistently wrong. Obviously us 'fans' know nothing but 12 months of decline and constantly odd & wrong choices is getting a bit silly now.

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    Mattias333

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Maybe McN has identified a higher-yielding cash cow, Mattias? It`s strange how easily it is to slip from hero to zero. His appointment of Lambert seemed a Master Stroke. Was it a one-off? Did he just get lucky? Did Lambert earn the luck his gung-ho approach achieved? It seems to me that Hughton is good at spotting decent players and poor at utilising them. Possibly no good at all at motivating them? If only there was a reverse gear on his demotivational skills.

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • To get away from the cycle of desperation Chris Hughton needs to be told to get on his bike. I cant see us winning either of the next 2 home games, we should I know, but really cant see it. I reckon Hull might just sneak it and maybe scrape a draw with the brilliant Newcastle. Chris loves them, he wont want us to beat them.

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    Henry

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • This is bang on the money. As a long time supporter going back to the days of Foggo and Bone I am increasingly depressed by what is happening to my beloved team. It seems that meek surrender is acceptable because we are playing a 'bigger' team. Today we are about to sign a player who is regarded as a joke by his own supporters for an inflated fee. No pace, can't cross. We have plenty of those already. Perhaps more worrying is that CH is being given the money to do it which suggests he is staying.. God help us. As for winning the next few games, let's get real. When was the last time we went into any game Luton Town included with an expectation of winning. This management team has taken any joy out of watching NCFC. They are inept and yes, clueless. As for McNally and his much vaunted reputation, it's time to man up and do what is required. Even someone who could organise a team would be a step forwards. We are running out of time. Give Hughton his Best of Spurs DVD and send him and his useless management team on his way.

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    suffolkcanary

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Hughton is going nowhere though. If we sign anyone hes hear until the bitter end. Stupid thing is the board have said in public that they want 'mid table mediocrity'. With the players we have that should be easily achieved but Hughtons making a total pigs ear out of it. Were not even going to achieve mid table mediocrity. Does annoy me a little that while things were going well Mr McNally was happy to use Social Media an re-post everyone saying how wonderful he is, yet he got rid of it as soon as things turned nasty and now there is no bridge between fans and board for immediate dialogue. I suspect the board are not happy but us fans have no idea what there really thinking. That handy immediate from the horses mouth confirmation isn't there anymore so I can totally understand when an average fan writes or says "the board are happy and dont care etc" because they've been given no other reason not to think that. 12 months of alarming decline isn't acceptable. No excuse is acceptable.

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    Mattias333

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Btw, contents-wise I quite liked The Padster`s article despite its prolixity.

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • I have just seem a picture of a grinning Hughton posing with a strange looking middle aged man in a white bobble hat. Please tell me what are the Board thinking in allowing this farce to continue? Giving Hughton 3 million to waste ,......WASTE, on a has been chum from a former club? The plot has well and truly been lost .

    Report this comment

    kenfoggo

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Two home games could change the story...lets hope so....

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    Watton Warrior

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Foggo and Bone - ah, memory lane. I always have fond memories of Trevor Hockey too... Why oh why wasn't Wes in behind the two strikers on Satuday - he might have provided at least some linkage...

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    Surrey Canary

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • NORWICH will just survive this year albeit close call. You will all buy your increased prices season tickets for next season This will come to pass. Houghton will be the saviour,there will be.rejoicing in the streets. This is the word

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    PaulH

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Tried to post on the subject of the missing joie de vivre but it was ethered. Perhaps the Archant filter thinks it`s "Offensive"?

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • OMG, I've just entered a cycle of desperation( and depression) after reading this article. All NC players should be banned from reading it.

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    Lobbo

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • At the risk of being shot down, I am also in the cycle. Every game I hope and expect for better but always end up feeling disappointed. We are simply not fighting like the other teams around us, look at Wet Spam, Sunderland etc, they seem to want PL survival more than we do. I, along with most fans expected better this season and not having to worry about staying up. We have two forwards who can't score, Fer (in my opinion) has gone from hero to zero and looks like he can't be bothered, the midfield and defence don't close people down well enough. It's a shambles and no word from the board. Just hope I haven't wasted my money on the Newcastle ticket. Dejected of Felixstowe.

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    FXT Canary

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Hughton has to shoulder the blame for the situation: his continuous tactical blunders and team set-ups has created the disillusion in the ranks of the players. Having spend £27 million he has got nothing to show for this vast expenditure. Quite the opposite. We have in fact slid backwards even from last year where at least we could defend reasonably well. He is also hte person who must motivate and fire up the players. Again something that clearly he doesn't have the capacity to do. I am not totally absolving the players here, either, many of whom have not put in anything like enough effort or commitment, regardless of everything else. However the buck stops at Hughton and I can see no way forward under this manager, only the trap door wide open. The Board's failure to act is also open to question. Sadly even if they do so now, we may well be past the tipping point. Sorry to sound so gloomy. Wish it were different but what positives can there be?

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    malaga flier

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • There`s no way the Executive level bods at Carra Rud would want to go down to the Championship. The bloated Premiership cash cow is so very milkable for all concerned. The way it is panning out at the moment, it looks like they threw away about £27million worth of Gold Top. Sorry, unfair on the players maybe - but why are previously prolific scorers like RvW and Hoops struggling? Why does Fer now look like he doesn`t really care? I totally agree with Mattias on this one. While many at the club will be wringing their hands at the loss of Prem status (and their lashings of double cream), the likes of Fer, RvW, Hooper, Tettey, Redmond, Ruddy and McNally will be off. As will Hughton - but not of his own volition, hopefully taking Bewilderwood etc with him. Does Gutierrez really want to come here? Is McNally about to confound us with a Master Stroke? See next week`s exiting (sic) episode of Hughterman.

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Nobody wants to fail in what they are doing and having no confidence in the leader's ability to succeed drains motivation. Just listen to Hughton. Not only is it 90% drivel but spoken in such a timid and lack-lustre way that there is no inspiration to the players. But why should Hughton worry? He will be paid to the end of his contract whatever results he gets with the team. Then there will be some other club daft enough to take him on again so he can bore another set of fans.

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    waclor

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Spot on from all posters, but I do not agree that City's chronic injury problems are justifiable mitigation as we only have 4 out of a 23 man sqaud injured. All teams have this problem at this time of the year. I would have started with a single striker up front on Saturday as we were playing one of the better sides and would then have tried Fox in the passing midfield roll with two natural sided wingers, that could well have been Snodgrass on the left and Redmond on the right. Why on earth would any sane manager try Garrido as a left winger when they have the two Murphy boys plus Wes who can all do a better job there. If he really had to play Garrido, why not at left back and then move Ollson to left wing. If Fox was not cutting it during the first half, he could then simply replace him with Wes, yes that means changing a deep midfielder for a man in the hole but the overall defensive patern would not be change. Mind you for the Bains goal, once again there was no defensive midfield cover as he was allowed all the time in the world to run at Bennett, something many coaches will have picked up on.

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    TrevorKeith

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Do NOT for a second say "we are better off in the championship at least we win there".....Im never one for arguing or telling someone whose opinion is different there wrong as footballs all about opinions but thats shocking! I said the same thing in 1995 that we would walk the old division 1 and we didnt return for blooming years! I then said the same thing after relegation with Worthy when I was a away season ticket holder as well as home.....I sat there on a sub zero temp tuesday night in Luton shivering as Norwich went in at half time 4-0 down and thought.....how wrong could I be again. Do not fall into the trap of thinking going down to the championship would be a walk in the park. Trust me it wont and i'd bet every penny I have that we wouldn't come back up again at first attempt. We'd certainly lose the few shinning lights we've had in Fer & Redmond....and likely Ruddy. Comes over very arrogant of us...the side that has achieved 3pts from the last 18pts possible that we could drop down a division and win for fun.

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    Mattias333

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • lol Mad! In reference to Andy's comments I agree. The current 12 months of evidence only points to further decline instead of any sort of 3 game, 2 game or even 1 game winning run. Just seems totally the same as when we played West Ham at home. Everyone said it was a must win or Hughton was gone. We got through that game....just....and all the Hughton fans were happy, "oh we've turned the corner".....we have not though. We've continued the exact same pattern the last 12 months have shown us. Win the odd game although not in convincing fashion then return to underperforming ways of getting the odd draw and rolling over losing in the rest.

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    Mattias333

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • I have a water leak in my house. I have a plumber, he's a nice guy, I like him , we may have a beer together on occasion. Every week the plumber comes round to my home and says he will try to fix the leak. But the leak is never fixed. Question for Mr McNulty, should I carry on employing my plumber and wait until my house foundations are washed away, or should I sack the plumber and employ someone who can do the job?

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    kenfoggo

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Sorry but 2 homes games wont change the story. We could....form doesnt suggest so.....go and win 2 games, but we all know it wont last, the constant wrong team selections, players looking unmotivated and dire methods of play wont change. As for people saying better off in Championship, have a word with yourself please.

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    Jimhow

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Agree with most of the comments on here. Can't see the Board getting rid of Hughton, alas! He's just been given more money to waste, and bringing down his old pal from Newcastle on loan isn't going to plug the leaks in a sinking ship. If Hoolahan does go to Villa then we're really doomed. Not simply because we'll miss Wes's creativity, but because it will be confirmation of the fact that CH hasn't got a clue about where real talent lies.

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    wallybrain

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • I've heard supporters before bemoan 'mid-table' mediocrity once before. It preceded demands to sack manager after manager and unlimitedly lead to our relegation. He got us to a higher position last year than Lambert the year before. Rather than the constant negativity, try to get behind the team to get them a finishing position that's comparable. I doubt a change of manager now will make a difference in fact it could make matters worse. Everyone (in or outers) are bored of the style of play. But so are Stoke supporters to be fair, and Hull are the dullest thing I've seen in a while. Ute fans are bemoaning the rubbish football and Arsenal fans never stop moaning. It's a fact of the pl these days. Everyone's too scared to go down unless they're in the top six in which case they're too scare to come fifth. Don't confuse performances with result, which I think a lot are doing. Even when we win, we're boring. There not too many mangers that would do differently in all honesty.

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    Dan

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • All the comments below make a forcefully obvious point. Hughton is not the man manager, motivator or driving force that this club needs. His lack of tactical flexibility, and ability to think on his feet has been there since the day he arrived. Malaga made a very valid point. we are probably past the tipping point. The board have sat on their hands for far too long, just hoping that we will slip over the finish line in 15th or 16th. You never know, they may prove to be vindicated? Very risky strategy though!! The choice of replacement managers is now very limited. I dont see Malky filling the bill. His transfer decision making at Cardiff was pretty dire, and we know that appointing a former favourite son, can be a disastrous policy. Solskar has gone to Cardiff. We missed a wonderful opportunity in Tim Sherwood. Who are we left with?? Phelan probably hasnt got a job, because he's a good number 2, and not ready to step up. certainly not into the Premiership. Like Worthington, Hughton will probably get booted after relegation, in May. But it's a bit late then, isnt it??

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    Algarve Canary

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Abraham, just look at the Live games Norwich compared with others on even par with Norwich, look at Swansea, Hull all much more coverage than Norwich, no live games in Dec or Jan 1 in Feb

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    Derek McDonald

    Monday, January 13, 2014

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

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