The Canaries have been on a great run lately and enjoying themselves in the Premier League again. Sunday’s win over Sunderland was the fourth consecutive league win at Carrow Road this season. Away from home the club aren’t so dynamic and are still looking for their first win on the road, but have recently recorded impressive draws against Everton and Southampton.
Norwich City did not have the most impressive start to the season, but that wasn’t wholly unexpected given the managerial change during the summer. However, the side is now back on track and very much in Chris Hughton’s vision.
So, let’s take a look at what he has added to the club and why they have been doing so well lately.
I think it’s fair to say that the biggest thing that Chris Hughton has brought to the club is defensive stability. Last season, Norwich City was not known for clean sheets or a tight defence in any way; this was not something that Paul Lambert saw as a priority.
Chris Hughton is his own man and has his own way of doing things; defence is certainly an area that he values, and the transformation has been significant to see. The club’s current Premier League run of eight matches unbeaten has a lot to do with this solid defence.
The club may not have kept a clean sheet in the last three matches, but they have still only conceded one goal in each of them. So, it appears if Norwich concede it tends to only be the one goal; this certainly takes an awful lot of pressure off the club’s attacking players.
Paul Lambert’s time at Carrow Road was always one for focusing on young players. Of course, this strategy served the club very well for three seasons, so it’s hard to be too critical of his methods. But there comes a time when a club needs to invest in experience and quality.
The media might be full of so-called experts that think Norwich are made up of Championship-standard players, but the reality is very different from that. The summer signings of Javier Garrido, Alex Tettey, Michael Turner, Steven Whittaker and Sebastien Bassong have already proved to be crucial.
I think the fact that three of those players are foreign has also been important to get Norwich City to the next level. It will be vital for Hughton to continue to find the best quality from the Championship, Premier League and abroad. But whatever people think about the club, there is an awful lot of quality here, and I won’t stand by and let anyone say any different.
Under Paul Lambert, Norwich City fans never quite knew what they were going to get. Team selection was constantly being changed, and he didn’t seem to put any particular priority on home or away games. Of course, at the time, this wasn’t so much a problem, and it was good to know that we could regularly secure away wins.
But Chris Hughton is a bit more of a traditional football manager and really focuses on getting wins at home, while going into tough away games it’s more of a case of making sure you are well-organised and hard to beat. It is this logical strategy that has been crucial for the club’s current unbeaten run and a way of running a football club that fans can relate to.
I don’t know how many goals Norwich scored from set pieces last season, but it seems they have become a bit good at this lately. It is always useful to be able to score goals from these situations, and it has meant that defenders Michael Turner and Sebastien Bassong have already contributed three goals between them.
Robert Snodgrass’ free kick against Southampton may have had a bit of fortune about it, but it was a classic case of putting it on target and seeing what happens. The thing that really excites me about Norwich this season is the quality of delivery they have put in at times. Snodgrass’ delivery for Bassong’s goal against Sunderland was a prime example of this.
Another thing about Chris Hughton’s Norwich City is that they don’t rely on just one or two players to score the goals. I’m not saying they were that side under Paul Lambert, but I do wonder how the club would have fared last season if Holt, Morison and Pilkington hadn’t been so prolific.
Hughton’s team may not have individuals that are going to have significant season totals at the end of the campaign. However, there are a number of players that can score, and we have already seen that this season.
The real significant point for me here is the dry spell that Grant Holt is currently going through; so many teams struggle when their main striker isn’t scoring. However, when Norwich City has needed the odd goal they have managed to find it to win and draw Premier League games.
Bradley Johnson, Sebastien Bassong, Anthony Pilkington and Robert Snodgrass have all been Norwich’s heroes in recent matches. This is something that is a very good sign and should help the club to maintain their current excellent form.