Defeat at Fulham matters less than Norwich City’s response
Chris Hughton revealed his under-performing Norwich City players were left in no doubt their Fulham mauling was unacceptable.
The Canaries were a long way short of the high standards set in last season's impressive Premier League showing after another forgettable day at Craven Cottage.
City were indebted to John Ruddy during an early onslaught by the hosts, but the England keeper was left badly exposed when Damien Duff profited from indecision in the Norwich backline to slot home.
Mladen Petric rose above Marc Tierney and Russell Martin at the near post to compound the damage prior to the interval and any prospect of a comeback was ended with the Croatian's long-range second, which brushed Michael Turner to deceive Ruddy.
Alex Kacaniklic and Steve Sidwell's late penalty completed the rout, but Hughton is not concerned about the potential lingering damage to the Canaries' collective confidence from such an emphatic defeat.
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'No, I'm not worried. This won't be the only defeat we have. Or the only defeat we have by a few goals. It is normal for any team in our position in this division,' he said.
'It is about what reaction you get now from the players. They will want to react well. They already know this wasn't acceptable today. They will want to make amends.
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'It was an awful day for us. It was tough watching. The first game of the season you want to get off to a good start. We knew it was going to be difficult because these are a good football side.
'These days they don't lose many games here, but for me there were pivotal moments in the game. I thought for the first 25 minutes, our team shape was quite good even though we weren't quite as big a threat as I would have liked. We looked solid and resilient in our shape.'
Hughton admitted City were cut open alarmingly easy by Fulham's mobile attacking threats.
'We just didn't defend well enough,' he said. 'Four of the goals were for me avoidable and that is the most disappointing aspect. It is an area we had looked very solid in pre-season.
'We went with five in midfield. We know it can happen. Goals change games and we conceded two poor goals in that first half period.
'You then have a decision to make to get back in the game. We changed the shape, knowing that it would make us a little bit more open.
'They have got good footballers, particularly in central midfield, but you hope it creates a big enough threat going the other way to get back in the game. There is always some risk.
We know we are playing in a really tough league and for me what is more important now is the type of reaction we get.'
Hughton expects his squad to respond in positive fashion over coming days ahead of QPR's Premier League visit to Carrow Road.
'We wanted to come and get something from the game and if it wasn't going to be a result we wanted a performance. We didn't get either,' he said. 'We certainly need to get back to basics this week and make amends.
'What have I learned? I've learned that you can't put in a performance today against a quality side and expect to come away with anything. I have learned when we are resilient and defend well we give ourselves a chance.
'It's the first day of a new season. We have all been here before when it is a bad start and you have to pick everybody up.
'You have to eradicate the negatives, look for the positives and hope the result and performance and the kick from that will push us on. I don't have to tell the players again and again. They know.'