Alex Ward takes a look at the defeat to Mancini’s Man City, and looks ahead to 2013…
As the sun sets on a tumultuous 2012, Chris Hughton will be reflecting on his reign; the exhilarating highs, the crushing lows, and all in between. By the same logic, so too will the Norwich faithful. But crucially, we must remind ourselves to follow his example: to keep our heads below the clouds and our feet firmly on the ground.
No doubt, the collective disappointment of the past three games have all but dashed the somewhat lofty dreams of European football and indeed, the failure to take a single point in the last three outings has affirmed one salient truth: Norwich aren`t out of the woods yet.
Whilst aspiration and ambition are part and parcel of football fandom, it`s imperative to remain pragmatic – just like Hughton – a man whose patience, composure and poise have remoulded City from cavalier entertainers into a solid, well-drilled outfit.
Despite the disappointment of today`s loss, the courageous nature of the fightback was a testament to the character of Hughton`s City. Let`s not forget last season`s fixture. After City found themselves 2 down in the opening stages they capitulated, cut to ribbons as they lost by the ignominious scoreline of 6-1 in front of their own fans.
But today, there was no such collapse. After going two down, Norwich chased, fought and battled back to provide a performance that the Norwich faithful could well and truly be proud of.
Since Hughton took the reigns, Norwich have developed the character and resolve that has enabled them to ascend from relegation certainties to a model example of top-flight survival.
Reading`s Adam Le Fondre said as much in an interview with Sky Sports just days ago:
“I remember Norwich were on a losing streak. But they built from one game and went on to go 10 games unbeaten”
“We have to take a leaf of their book”.
After failing to win any of their opening 7 matches, Norwich bounced back to conjure up a truly historic unbeaten run; a run of games that proved what could be done with the right mentality and attitude.
So when Hughton reflects upon his stewardship thus far, he will no doubt be proud of his team`s achievements.
But as sure as night follows day, he will be look forward to what new challenges 2013 is bound to bring. And after three back-to-back losses cuts the distance to the drop zone to 8 points, the winnable games have taken on a new degree of salience.
Next up is a stuttering West Ham – fresh from a defeat to relegation favourites Reading – followed by a struggling Newcastle outfit that find themselves flirting with the gloomy prospects of a relegation battle.
No doubt, the festive fatigue and lack of offensive firepower that have underpinned the recent run of defeats will continue to be a thorn in the teams side, and it is vital that Messrs Bowkett and McNally are prepared to dip into the coffers to provide the necessary reinforcements.
But given the quality of Hughton`s summer signings – Whittaker, Tettey, Garrido, Bassong, Turner, and let`s not forget big Grant – I have every faith that he will deliver what`s necessary, funds permitting.
Such is my faith in Chris Hughton.