Norwich City chief Chris Hughton will not shirk the Premier League battles ahead
- Credit: PA
Chris Hughton insists it will take more than Norwich City's recent gruelling run to beat him or his players into submission.
The Canaries' latest Premier League assignment at Manchester City caps the end of a series of tests against blue chip opponents where Norwich's failings have been ruthlessly exposed. Hughton has borne the brunt with each fresh setback, but the Norwich manager is a resilient operator.
'It's not hard to remain upbeat,' he said. 'When things are not going so well probably no-one feels it harder than me but I have to make tough decisions every game and there is pressure to perform in every game. You always have that belief because we have a strong group who have a great desire to do well. The mentality is good. They are intelligent footballers. They know performances have been good but the points tally has been lacking.
'If the form was not there I might be more concerned. Look at four of our last five games and we have played Arsenal, Chelsea, United and now City. We dominated against Cardiff without getting the win. We have to put that right and the only place is on the training ground and on a match day where it matters. Morale continues to be good. We have a group who want to put things right. I know you make your own luck in this game and that means you have to keep clean sheets and put the ball in the back of the net but I feel we haven't had much go for us in certain aspects.'
Hughton knows they face another serious title challenger at the Etihad even if Manuel Pellegrini's side have exhibited defensive vulnerability in recent weeks without injured captain and talisman Vincent Kompany.
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'Vulnerability is not the word I would use. Offensively, they are very, very good and any difficulties they have had at the back is down to injuries and having to chop and change,' said Hughton. 'Any team wants that stability and they are a good enough all round team. They have got so much quality and looking at the Newcastle cup game they were able to make 10 changes. That says it all.
'They have a new manager who is probably still assessing things and new players and I don't think there is anybody who doesn't feel they will not be right up there; whether they win the league or not they certainly have the players to do it. What stands in their way is perhaps the quality of six other teams but generally it is the tried and trusted sides who are right up there fighting for the title.'
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Norwich's 3-2 Premier League win at the end of last season remains a warm memory in the midst of current struggles.
'It shows we are capable of going away to tough arenas and getting results,' said Hughton. 'Ironically two of our better results were those final two games when we were probably under as much pressure as all season; certainly the West Brom game, when any of seven clubs could have gone down and we then took that into the Manchester City game. To go to one of the top clubs is always a big ask and needs a big performance.'
• Norwich City Under-21s were no match for their Manchester City counterparts on Friday night, slipping to a 3-0 defeat at Carrow Road.
The young Canaries were missing two of their most influential players in twins Josh and Jacob Murphy, who both travelled up to Manchester with the first team squad, and were struggling from the moment Sekon Fofana opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Jordy Hiwula doubled the visitors' advantage just before the hour mark and Fofana made it three five minutes from time.
• Norwich City: Matthews; McNeil, McFadden, Gafaiti, Toffolo; Norman (Wyatt 74), McGeehan (c) (King 70), Hodd, Hall-Johnson; Young; Morris. Subs (not used: Barker, Killip (Gk).
• Manchester City: Lawlor; Drury, Facey (c), Denayer, Leigh; Bytyqi, Fofana, Huws, Cole (Pozo 43); Rusnak (Glendon 76); Guidetti (Hiwula 51). Subs (not used: Plummer, O'Brien (Gk).