Chris Sutton is impressed by Norwich City boss Chris Hughton’s calming effect
- Credit: Archant
There is still a little bit of Chris Sutton that curses a particularly epic previous Premier League meeting between Southampton and Norwich City at Carrow Road.
The only difference is that almost 19 years on, he can bring out a wry smile when he thinks about it.
They were 90 minutes that helped perpetuate the feeling that Canaries versus Saints means a goals feast.
With the Canaries' 1993-94 top-flight campaign fizzling out by the week, City's already in-demand striker bagged a brace – but being on the wrong side of a nine-goal thriller left him with little to attach a silver lining on.
'I remember that game because I was on a goal bonus if we won or drew, and I scored two – but we lost 5-4, so it actually made me quite upset,' said Sutton, in his typical dry tone.
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The striker's own blossoming career ultimately took a different trajectory to City's plight over the seasons to come, something that has been written and spoken about ever since. It provided more than a few chapters in Sutton's autobiography, which was released in 2011.
And now, things have settled down nicely in Norfolk. Sutton's weekends tend to be taken up with watching his sons play football – in particular Oliver, who is plying his trade as a promising youth goalkeeper at Wroxham.
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But Sutton's diary for tomorrow is full for a first visit of the season to Carrow Road and a chance to see first hand how his old side have dead-batted away almost all concerns over second season syndrome.
'My sons play football on a Saturday so I go to watch them, but I follow Norwich very closely, obviously. I still live locally and they are doing OK,' said Sutton.
'I know a lot of people who are season ticket-holders and in the main, people who I have spoken to are absolutely delighted with what has been happening down at Carrow Road.
'Chris Hughton is a likeable person, but more importantly he seems to have stabilised the club and I think they can really kick on next season again.
'I'm sure they will stay in the league this season. They had that good run in the autumn and got the points tally up – and as often happens in the Premier League, they haven't found it all easy. But I think Chris has done a good job. It was always going to be difficult to follow Paul Lambert. He has changed the style of play a little bit. I know some people feel Norwich are not positive enough, but I actually think he has got it bang on. The main thing is staying in the Premier League and Norwich are well on the way to doing that.
'The Southampton game will have a big bearing because if Norwich win, then they would feel Southampton cannot catch them or would at least find it very difficult. And in many ways it sets up the game nicely, because we are at the stage of the season where there is going to be a bit of nervousness and it might not be as free-flowing from now on in because sides are so desperate for points.'
Sutton has a duty to perform before kick-off tomorrow, manning the Barclays Pingit photobooth outside Carrow Road to meet City fans and be available for pictures.
He also has a connection with Hughton that stretches to managing his son, Cian, during his time in charge at Lincoln City – and now Sutton is taking a similar path in Norfolk with the Yachtsmen's reserves.
'I help out when they are short but I am not the player I was,' said the 39-year-old. 'Certainly it's not rough and tumble any more, all the backing in. I'm more of a play-maker these days and I don't get my knees too dirty.
'They've got some good young players and it's a nice set-up at the club – but it's nice to play with my son more than anything.'
• Chris Sutton is an ambassador for Barclays 'Don't pass it, ping it' campaign – for more information go to www.barclays.co.uk