Painful lessons for Norwich City after Manchester United sucker punch

Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan is reportedly the subject of a £1.5m enquiry from Aston Villa.

Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan is reportedly the subject of a £1.5m enquiry from Aston Villa. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City were subjected to a brutal finishing lesson by Premier League champions Manchester United that was not lost on Chris Hughton.

Danny Welbeck's match-winner may have been conceived in fortuitous circumstances with Ryan Bennett's intended clearance careering against both the England striker and Javier Hernandez, but the calm slot past John Ruddy served to highlight City's own relative lack of precision.

David De Gea denied Russell Martin, Gary Hooper and Sebastien Bassong during a dominant first half spell from the hosts that failed to produce a merited breakthrough.

'The winner comes from a double deflection which ran into the path of Danny and when that falls to someone like him you are almost expecting him to score. That was the only difference between the two teams,' said Hughton. 'It was a fortunate goal but you've still got to put the ball in the back of the net and that's what United are capable of doing. I thought we were better over the 90 minutes, we got into better positions and better areas.

'Our organisation was excellent and we had some good chances. On the balance of play the defeat is a tough one to take because so many aspects of our game were very good, but goals win games.'

City have now scored three Premier League goals in their past four home games and Hughton admitted that is a trend causing concern.

'We are giving ourselves a more difficult ride at home and we have to make things more comfortable when we get into the final third,' he said. 'This feels really sickening. It is a massive disappointment because it is a game we didn't deserve to lose. I thought we were magnificent right throughout, but when you have your best period you have to try and capitalise on it and we didn't do that and with the changes and the quality they can bring on you know what could happen.

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'Even in the second half I thought we were good. The big threat from United came on the counter-attack and to see them running down the clock tells you how delighted they were to get a result. I thought we were excellent, particularly in that first half period but we needed to score.'

Hughton restored both Wes Hoolahan and Russell Martin to his starting line-up and the duo were impressive during City's most productive periods.

'I though tactically we were spot on for the majority of the game. We got a little bit more confident as the game went on,' he said. 'We wanted to get good possession in the game and if we do that we know we have players in wide areas, certainly Nathan (Redmond), who showed with his pace, and (Robert) Snodgrass, with the quality and close control he has got, that we can be a threat but you have to have possession first. I felt we had that possession in the first half.

'They have such quality that you have to get the game right against them. If you open up too much they can hurt you. United were forced to make changes in the second half, which you know is going the affect the game because of the quality they have got.