Some things do not change for Norwich City boss Chris Hughton ahead of televised Stoke Premier League test
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Chris Hughton does not buy into the theory Stoke City have embarked on a policy of refinement under Mark Hughes.
Norwich's dire recent record at the Britannia Stadium coincided with Tony Pulis' uncomplicated brand of direct football but Hughton believes Stoke remain a tough proposition in their Potteries' stronghold.
'I think the style of play has changed. How dramatically I don't know,' he said. 'What Tony did in the seven years he was there was magnificent. To grow that club, get promotion from the division below and then become a very stable, regular Premier League team was some achievement. Mark has perhaps got different ideas but certainly the personnel in the team is still very much Tony's side, with a couple of additions.
'Any game against Stoke over the past few years has been tough and we expect another one. Its normal when a new manager goes in he wants to implement his style and way of playing but I don't expect anything different in how Stoke approach this game.'
Stoke's impressive early season form suggests new boss Hughes has commanded instant respect within the home dressing room.
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'He is not one I know perhaps as well as others but he always sets his teams up well and I think overall he has had good success in his career as a manager,' said Hughton. 'He has great experience, particularly at Manchester City, where if I look at the heights they are reaching now he was there at the beginning and instrumental in the take off. He is a good manager who has taken over a very good squad.
'We all know what a fantastic player he was as well. I think I must have played against him, even though I am a fair bit older. As a player he was a tough opponent. Physically and technically he was a very, very good player and a superb finisher. If you look back at the goals he scored there was some class finishes.'
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Hughes was critical of his side's defending on set pieces in last weekend's 3-1 Premier League reverse at Arsenal - the hosts' first league defeat since the opening day. City's success last season under Hughton relied heavily on a potent threat from dead ball situations which has failed to materialise so far on the road in league defeats at Hull and Tottenham.
'We need to be better away from home than we have been and I know we'll take a fabulous support away again,' said Hughton. 'We would prefer to have more points, of course, but you have to take that disappointment forward and the only way to turn it around is to work hard on the training pitch. We try to get three points wherever we go. Ultimately I set a team up to try and win a football match. You look for lifts where you can and after Villa we got that in the cup game at Watford
'I did hear Mark's quotes after that (Arsenal) game and it seemed that he was disappointed about conceding from three set pieces.
'We work very hard on those and the bulk of our game is about making sure we set up in the right way to nullify some of their threats and to take the game to them.'