Chris Hughton is feeling the Premier League buzz on the eve of Everton’s opening day visit
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Chris Hughton has given his life to football and the pay-off for the Norwich City manager is days like Saturday afternoon when the Canaries' chief aims to plot Everton's downfall in the Premier League opener.
Hughton admits there is nothing quite like the seasonal curtain-raiser to set the pulses racing with a clutch of highly-rated recruits and a Carrow Road full house providing the perfect canvas.
'I still get the buzz. Definitely,' he said. 'There are two days, really, one is the first day back of pre-season when it is always good to see the players again and of course the opening day because I've seen plenty of pre-season games - and perhaps maybe people will have said the same about one or two of our matches - that you would call typical pre-season matches.
'There is no doubt once that first day comes the volume is turned up, the intensity is turned up and it all changes and then it becomes real and competitive. I think you have to be excited. For as much as we have been willing this day to come around you know the crowd will be well up for it and we have to give them something to cheer about.'
Hughton's affection for the first league encounter of the new campaign endures, despite a torturous start to his Norwich career at Fulham 12 months ago.
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'I actually don't mind being reminded. It was a bad day for us and when you analyse and reflect you know it is something you do not want to go through again,' he said. 'To suffer results that have not gone for you makes you even more determined not to experience the same thing again. We didn't see it coming because I felt we had done well enough in pre-season.
'I went into it with a system that I didn't think worked on the day and it was one of those when after 25 minutes it was fairly even until they scored with their first real chance. Everything that could have gone wrong did for us. It was a lesson we learned very early on.'
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Roberto Martinez finds himself in the same position as Hughton last season with the Spaniard following a hugely-successful predecessor in David Moyes who spent more than a decade on Merseyside.
'He is an experienced manager. What he has done is gone into a very stable, settled club,' said Hughton. 'Roberto has brought in a few players but the massive core of the squad has been permanent fixtures for a few seasons. He will try to put his stamp on it and he is very good at doing that but they still have the same quality from recent seasons and I very much expect them to have a good season again.
'New manager or no new manager I am quite sure the challenge would be the same facing Everton. I expect even if there are a few subtle differences in the philosophy the core values of his club will not change. They have good, determined footballers and that is why they have been towards the top end of the league for as many years as we can remember.'
Martinez is one of a number of managerial changes in the Premier League headlined by Jose Mourinho's return to Chelsea this summer that Hughton feels will inject even more interest in the Enlgish top flight.
'I'm sure the new managers will bring a lot of excitement and they are all top class operators,' he said. 'You look around the league generally at the amount of managerial changes and there has been quite a number, but the thing that doesn't change is the teams have again strengthened and that turnover of players is very big.'