Sunday, 3 November 2013

C. Hughton (Manager)?

This is going to be a bit of a (unstructured) rant...

Not been the best week for me, personally - but this hasn't been a good week for Norwich City Football Club either, after being knocked out of the League Cup by Manchester United, and then losing 7-0 away to Manchester City today.  I'm struggling to know what to make of all this, to be brutally honest - of course, both Manchester teams are tough opposition, particularly when they're playing at home, but a 7-0 scoreline is just embarrassing and we (that is, Norwich) have a much stronger and more talented quad than eighteenth in the Premier League would suggest.

If you believe most of the 'fans' commenting on the club Facebook page, and generally chattering on social media, the answer is staring us in the face - sack [manager] Chris Hughton, and instantly we'll be in the top half of the table, and beating all the top teams.  I'm sorry, but that is overly simplistic, and just won't wash.

Before today's game at the Etihad Stadium, Norwich City posted a short video on their Facebook page, in which Hughton says he 'has to take the positives' from the past weeks; the first comment I saw said 'I haven't seen any positives'.  Seriously?  No positives at all?  Nonsense - they may only be small things, but they are there.

This is the sort of thing which really irritates me; it's not the fact that fans are frustrated with the team, or with the manager - that's perfectly understandable - but the uneducated, ill-informed way in which that frustration is expressed.  Hughton is often slated by Norwich fans for being 'a defensive manager', and for playing 'negatively' - a charge still inexplicably levelled at him following last week's draw at home to Cardiff, in which the Canaries broke the season's Premier League record for the most number of shots on target.  Of course we should've scored one, and we should've won that game - but in what universe does that constitute 'defensive' play?!

Are Norwich dead-and-buried?  No.  Despite currently sitting in the Relegation Zone, with nine points we are still in touch with the next five or six teams above us in the table, and we are lucky that there is already a small gap opening to the bottom two teams - Sunderland and Crystal Palace - which means that in order for either of them to overtake Norwich they would have to win two games in a row, with Norwich losing both their fixtures.

Yes, something is seriously wrong.  Is it the manager?  Perhaps.  But let's not forget, in our lynch-mob hysteria, that we started very slowly last season too (under the same manager), but then went on an unbeaten run of games better than that of any other team in Europe besides Barcelona.  We beat Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City last year - all with Chris Hughton as manager.

I think some people must have spilt beer on their computers' numeric keypads, as the '4' and the '2' key seem to be sticking...  Commenting '4-4-2' followed by about eight million exclamation marks doesn't exactly make you a football expert.  Presumably, these are the same people who stick the knife into the England manager whenever the national teams plays a 4-4-2 formation because it's an old-fashioned way of setting up a team?

If those supporters who are screaming 'Hughton Out' want to be taken seriously, they need to provide a viable alternative.  Sacking a manager is a big deal - it will cause unrest and upheaval, it could unsettle the team and have the opposite effect to the one for which we'd be hoping.  But even assuming it would be the right course of action, the biggest question is still: who would we get instead?

A lot of managerial names were being bandied about by the Facebook know-it-alls today; including Malky Mackay, Neil Lennon, Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo.  Can you honestly see any of those managers even wanting to come to Norwich?  Who else is there who is available, and is a genuinely better option?

Now, let's be absolutely clear here...  I'm not saying that Hughton is blameless in this situation (he isn't), and I'm not saying that getting rid of the manager is not the right way forward - but if we are going to sack our manager, that needs to be a carefully considered, well-thought-out move, and not a knee-jerk reaction brought on by mindless panic after a tough start in the first quarter of the season.  I, for one, am extremely glad that the football club I love is not being run by these same idiots who like to act first, and think later.