Premier League: If Chris Hughton Is Sacked, a Dangerous Precedent Is Set
With Paolo Di Canio sacked by Sunderland just five games into the new Premier League season, I began to wonder whether a dangerous new precedent had been set in one of the world's most volatile working arenas.
As I sat down to prepare for my interview with Gus Poyet on Tuesday morning, I received an email from his agency informing me, in an apologetic tone, that the former Brighton manager was forced to postpone in the light of new events.
No prizes for guessing where he was off to.
Some people justified the Di Canio sacking, extremely early as it was, by suggesting he was far from the most pleasant or accommodating individual in the game.
There were even suggestions a player revolt lead to his upheaval, and in those cases, it's difficult to argue against the board's decision—especially when the club in question is rooted to bottom of the Premier League table.
But Hughton is another case entirely, the polar opposite character to Di Canio, and one which is all the more difficult to gauge.
The former Newcastle man's recent record is not good: It's relegation form, there's no denying it, as four victories in 21 Premier League games and one away win this side of Christmas won't get you anywhere.
And that sole victory was against Brian Kidd's "Holistic Army," the Manchester City side who had all but given up.
Fans were getting a little agitated in the run-up to their home game against Aston Villa this weekend, and the subsequent 1-0 loss was only made worse by the fact that it was former manager Paul Lambert leading the opposition.
That's another factor in Carrow Road's disgruntlement with the Hughton regime, he's following a hero into the job, and the fans still adore his predecessor for all he did for the club.
I spoke, in private, to Norwich City season ticket holder Oliver Inwards on his feelings toward the Canaries' current gaffer, and he resolutely stated: "One thing Norwich fans will always want is attacking football."
Lambert provided this, Hughton does not.
It's not all about Lambert, it's not all about comparisons, but this is a genuine concern among many fans of the club, and it's not just the minority speaking out.
Hughton received big financial backing this summer and bought some fantastic players: Leroy Fer has been a delight to watch so far, and Nathan Redmond has been a revelation; The defence is solid, but going forward they struggle.
Some foresaw that issue having seen the type of player Ricky van Wolfswinkel is beforehand, but the Norwich board will simply point to figures—namely money outlaid and goals scored as a team. They're high and low, respectively.
Hughton survived relegation by the skin of the his teeth last season and has started poorly again. Expectations were high from the board due to the spending, and whether or not Sunday is D-Day, their fingers are clearly itching.
Norwich fans, ultimately, will not be shedding any tears if Hughton goes, but the decision (or timing of it) from the board could cement a precedent risked by Ellis Short.
If Sunderland sack their man after five, Norwich after six, who pulls the trigger after seven? Or eight?
We thought Chelsea dispensing with Andre Villas-Boas in February and Roberto Di Matteo in November was bad, yet it threatens to get even worse.
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