Thursday, February 21, 2013
Former Norwich City and Everton striker Tony Cottee has backed Chris Hughton to guide City to safety ahead of the Toffees’ weekend Premier League visit.
The Sky Sports pundit was at Carrow Road for the recent goalless draw against Fulham which edged Norwich another step closer to securing a third consecutive season of top flight football.
“I think he has done a fantastic job,” said Cottee, who spent a brief spell at the Canaries towards the end of his playing days in 2000. “I like Chris. I have met him a few times and he has always come across as a nice guy. You hope it works out for people like that, but you know it is going to be difficult. In the circumstances he has done a good job.
“I know they had a real difficult start to the season, then a good spell and now a blip. That can happen for any club in about 15 positions in the league. The word for me regarding Norwich City this season is quite simply ‘consolidation’. They have got to stay in the league – it doesn’t matter if it is 17th – and let Chris build again in the summer.
“They are not far away. They just need a couple of wins as soon as possible. Personally, I think they have enough quality to stay in the Premier League.
“It might not have been as free-flowing and exciting as last year but that was a great season and now the main thing as a football club is to keep building and get the big money that comes with it.”
Cottee believes City’s latest Premier League stalemate against Fulham underlined just how high the stakes are with a new domestic broadcast deal on the horizon this summer.
“It was the sort of game you felt neither team wanted to lose. When that happens you get two teams who really cancel each other out – which they did,” he said. “Nothing really happened. You would like to think there isn’t a lot of games like that between now and the end of the season but, from the outside, you get the impression there is a lot of pressure. It is such a dramatic loss when you get relegated and especially this year with the increased revenue. Maybe the players don’t think like that but the actual fear of being part of a relegated team and what that means must have a mental effect. It might not be good entertainment for the fans, but that point could prove vital to both Norwich and Fulham.
“I think it is the home form that will keep Norwich City in the Premier League because Carrow Road is pretty much a fortress. I’ve not seen all the fixtures left, but the games that will dictate Norwich’s fate are not going to be trips to Arsenal or the Manchester clubs. They have Reading and Southampton down the bottom and they are the big games.”
City have drawn four of their last five Premier League tests and the 47-year-old believes another point against Everton this weekend would be a positive step in the right direction. The ex-England striker enjoyed a prolific six-year spell at Goodison Park and Cottee is adamant David Moyes’ squad are good enough to secure a Champions League spot.
“I am a huge David Moyes fan,” he said. “They have had a very good season. They beat (Manchester) United on the opening day and they have also drawn quite a few games - but for that they might almost be challenging for second or third position in the league. Traditionally they get stronger as the season goes on and it was always the sloppy starts that cost them. I’ve said all along they have a possibility to qualify for the Champions League. It will be tough for Norwich and even if they draw the game again that is not going to be a disaster.”