Chris Hughton had no doubts he would have kept Norwich City in the Premier League

Chris Hughton was adamant he would have led the Canaries to Premier League safety but chief executive David McNally disputes the notion City's board clung on too long before his dismissal.

Neil Adams has been entrusted with the task of securing top-flight survival over the run-in after Hughton and his backroom team were pulled out of the firing line following a 1-0 home league defeat to West Brom.

'Chris is a nice man in quite a tricky sport where sometimes we do occasionally swim with sharks,' said McNally. 'Everyone knows he is a professional man but he was clearly very disappointed when he was told. He had the view he would have finished the job off properly and effectively. When someone loses their job the relationship does change – whether we like it or not – and there is an impact.

'We worked with Chris for 22 months and we managed to end up 11th place last season, which was a terrific finish, and we hoped he would improve things this year.'

Hughton's future had been a regular topic during a difficult second season at the club.

'We are all football fans and we know the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing,' said McNally. 'We gave Chris every opportunity to improve our fortunes this season. Those that have watched every game and Norwich City fans would tell you the football that has been on offer this season has been inconsistent.

'We have not got the results we needed and, alongside that, performances have been inconsistent. We have never managed to win two or three games out of four. It was win one, lose one and so on. That was the pattern and the recent form was even worse.

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'We always have to be mindful of how many games and points we have as the season progresses. If you have less points than games played then you are in trouble in the Premier League. This might be an unusual season but that is usually the case.'

McNally realises the focus will be on Adams but he insists it is vital the playing squad now step up to the mark after a turbulent few days.

'The senior players are absolutely essential now,' he said. 'We need our good footballers to produce for us and stick together. Not many realise how closely-knit the group is and I think the players realise to a man what the Premier League means.'