Norwich City boss Chris Hughton is not fooled by Swansea’s poor form
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Chris Hughton has enjoyed Wembley success as a decorated player and coach but the Norwich City boss struggles to explain Swansea's Capital One Cup hangover.
Michael Laudrup's fusion of continental flair and domestic reliability has failed to win a single game since hammering Bradford to lift the Welsh club's first major trophy.
Hughton has watched all three of those Premier League defeats and the City chief warns today's visitors remain a force to be reckoned with.
'It is always hard to explain that. If anything, straight after the cup final Swansea should be looking forward to the rest of the season,' he said. 'Look at their position and you would say they are in a comfortable one in the table. Sometimes you would say that is the best way to play football. There isn't the pressure that people would perceive on the outside although it is still there inside of course. Would you rather have a player who has to go out and absolutely get a result or a player that hasn't had that pressure from outside to deal with and can play with a freedom?
'I have watched their last three games on tape and they created chances in every game. What doesn't change with Swansea is the way they want to play, their philosophy and they do have good offensive options. They will always be a threat. They are still dangerous.'
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Hughton believes the Swans are peerless when it comes to their stylish brand of football.
'I think they are as good as any side in the league in terms of the way they play,' he said. 'They are a well-drilled team. I suppose that clinical side of their game they had a few weeks ago has been missing recently but they are still in there creating chances. They are a very good passing, footballing side. Their league position is a fair one. They certainly deserve to be there but on the day we need to try and nullify the threats they have got and have a real good threat ourselves. I would prefer to look at it from our perspective. We have a home game and we know we need to pick up points in these last seven matches and the home games are the best opportunity.'
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Hughton will not abandon the meticulous approach which proved robust enough to triumph in the epic corresponding fixture before Christmas, when Norwich powered into a 3-0 interval lead before repelling Swansea's second half surge.
'Probably it was an indication that sometimes you can have a game where it goes right for you. To score three goals away from home in the first half is certainly unusual but it was a day and a half of football where it went for us,' said Hughton. 'You want to win the game. You have to win it in a way that is conducive to the quality of the opposition. They are a team who can open you up and in players like Michu they have a real clinical finisher. It is no fluke the number of goals he has scored.
'I am mindful of how Swansea play but it is really about can we get a foothold in the game. They do rely on a lot of possession in certain areas and my responsibility is to put a team out that can get that foothold and get us to a position where we can create chances and also give Swansea the respect they certainly deserve.'
City's Wigan defeat highlighted both their defensive resolve and fitful attacking urges, but Hughton insists such trends merely reflect the collective efforts of his charges.
'I am very conscious what the statistics are. We know we need to create more and score more goals to win football matches and that takes a little bit of pressure off everybody,' he said. 'In the exact same way if we are keeping clean sheets and being praised that is not just down to a back four and a goalkeeper, that is down to working hard from the front.
'We need a real good team ethic to score goals so I think any praise for the defence should be for the whole team. These next seven games are big. It doesn't mean that a bad result in any of those games is the end of the world. You have to pick yourself up and go again, just the same as a good result.'