Monday, February 11, 2013
Chris Hughton is under no illusions. Norwich City’s recent goal return is simply not good enough.
City have now scored once in their last five top flight encounters – one in six counting the FA Cup defeat to Luton – following the latest blank in the 0-0 Premier League draw against Fulham. Hughton’s bid to address that by pairing Grant Holt and Luciano Becchio in tandem at Carrow Road was scuppered by Holt’s untimely back injury on the eve of the Cottagers’ visit.
Becchio was deployed in a lone role before late reinforcements arrived in the shape of Simeon Jackson and Kei Kamara, but Hughton rejected any notion City had been too passive.
“The priority isn’t to not lose. We went into this game looking to win it, but we were dealt a blow with Grant’s injury. We had to change our plans,” he said. “Going into the game the aim was to be on the front foot, to play a little bit more in their half. It had to change. Yes, I was thinking of starting him (Holt) and Becchio – more so for Luciano because he has just come to the club, he was in real good goalscoring form and I was looking forward to seeing that.
“Of course the goals are a concern. It has to be a concern. We were on a poor run and at the moment it might not be by wins but we have managed to stop that poor run. We have had periods when we have played some good attacking football and been quite strong at the back as well and we have also been quite open and conceded. At the moment we are quite solid as a team, but lacking the flair qualities in that final third.”
Holt and Anthony Pilkington (hamstring) were key absentees for the Norwich manager in his bid to re-produce the vibrant display from the previous encouraging home draw with Tottenham.
“Am I disappointed not to win? Yes, I am,” said Hughton. “Was the plan to play a game that could get us the win? Yes, it was. If I looked at the similar formation there was only Pilkington and Holt who didn’t start from the last game here against Spurs, when I thought we were excellent. We were very offensive and looked a real threat and that is what I wanted to see here, but we lacked a bit of quality on the ball.”
Both players are expected to be fit for Everton’s visit on February 23 following the club’s mid-season four-day training break in Abu Dhabi. City’s senior squad flew out yesterday to the Emirates.
“It has been difficult as Norfolk has been hit heavier than most with the weather and we have had quite a few days where we have struggled to get on the training pitches,” said Hughton. “We are looking forward to a good few days training on a few good surfaces in Abu Dhabi.”