Stoke are a model for us says Norwich City boss Chris Hughton

Norwich City manager Chris Hughton is under no illusions City may meet their match on set pieces tod

Norwich City manager Chris Hughton is under no illusions City may meet their match on set pieces today at the Britannia. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Many look at Stoke and see a one-dimensional football team. Chris Hughton sees the path to Premier League sustainability.

The Potters win few friends for the direct brand of football copyrighted by Tony Pulis, but despite a relatively fallow period in recent times Stoke look set to retain a top flight membership dating back to 2008.

Hughton believes Stoke's season of struggle merely underlines the relentless nature of operating in the Premier League.

'You can't take anything for granted. Whether it is your seventh season or your first season,' he said. 'They have been magnificent for the status of their club. This is arguably the stickiest time they have had but you have to look at it over the whole period. If you look at the names in their squad it might be a surprise but it is about doing it consistently season after season and this is such a tough division to achieve that.

'I suppose it is almost to be expected that at some stage they would have a dip. I am not surprised about that because it can happen to any team but they are a stable middle-of-the-table club.'

Pulis' acquisition of cultured midfielder Charlie Adam was seen in certain quarters as an attempt to refine the Potters' methods. Results so far have been limited.

'I have seen a change in the way they have set teams up,' said Hughton. 'At times they have gone five in midfield when Stoke generally were always 4-4-2. During periods this season they have played five, with Adam in there to be a really advanced midfield player, and (Jon) Walters in a wide position or off the front. They have been prepared to try things and bring in new players but generally they still like to get the ball forward, get wide players on the ball and crosses. At their best, it is a very entertaining style of football.

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'You have a manager there who has done a good job and within the game they are very well-respected. These are a team who have been in the Premier League for a number of years. They do have a more direct style, there is no secret in that, but they use it very well and we will have to combat that.'

Pulis felt compelled to deny speculation earlier this week he is poised to sever his Stoke ties after a seven-year stint in the Potteries. Hughton does not have the inside track, but is adamant any potential exit talk is premature.

'For us as a club if we are in a position that Stoke have been in the last six, seven years we would be delighted,' he said. 'They continue to make progress. It is a model for teams like ourselves who have got promotion. What you desperately want is that type of stability where you can become a mainstay in the Premier League, because you know how difficult it is to become a top 10 team with the finances involved.'

The Canaries' chief is under no illusions City may meet their match on set pieces today at the Britannia as they bid to take one final step.

'Yes, we have been good (on set pieces), but we are playing a team who have generally also been good in that respect,' he said. 'They are no different to any other team in terms of how you prepare or the players you use. It is about the qualities of your own team. The opposition always come into a manager's thinking but for us to get a result will be how we play.

'We have continually spoken about that 40 point mark and you feel a little bit more comfortable once you have reached that figure. The only thing with this season is the teams around us are capable of winning games. I think it will take at least 40, but what will happen is that some of those teams will have to play against each other, which of course will stop some clubs getting points.'