Hughton hopes hammering hits home
Published 03/03/2014 | 13:52
Norwich boss Chris Hughton is fully expecting City's latest thrashing to have another galvanising effect on his shell-shocked players.
After taking an early lead in their Barclays Premier League match at Aston Villa on Sunday, the Canaries were blitzed by a four-goal salvo from the home side over a 16-minute period in the first half, sparked by two goals in three minutes from Christian Benteke.
As Hughton conceded after the game it was "a hammer blow" he "didn't see coming", and one that left him feeling particularly "sore".
The surprise result had come off the back of a fine 1-0 home victory over Tottenham the previous weekend, and it is at Carrow Road where City will have to find comfort again.
After a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal earlier this season, Norwich at least kept a clean sheet in their next game as they drew 0-0 with Cardiff on home soil.
A 5-1 humbling at Liverpool preceded a 2-0 victory over West Brom, that one on the road, while an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at Fulham was followed by a 1-0 success over Hull at Carrow Road.
So Hughton knows his players are capable of picking themselves up, dusting themselves down and bouncing back yet again, with Stoke the visitors on Saturday.
"This result is a concern because our form has been good," said Hughton.
"Certainly on the back of some defensive displays where we have been better than we were earlier in the season, and after our performance against Tottenham.
"So it's a real body blow for us because that is not how we have been in recent weeks.
"But you have to give them credit because on his day Benteke is as good as any striker, and on their day Villa can counter attack as well as anybody.
"We have to make sure come Thursday morning when we have everybody together again (after international duty) we put ourselves in the best possible position to win a home game next Saturday.
"We've a side that has generally been able to pick itself up after a difficult period or result and to churn out a better result.
"Now it's how we respond, and we've a group of lads that generally responds very well."
With 10 matches of the campaign still to run, City remain four points above the bottom three and in the thick of the dogfight for survival.
Hughton does not see that scenario changing, adding: "It's still competitive.
"If we win our home game on Saturday and other results go our way then it changes things again. It is very much like that.
"It is very competitive, probably as competitive as I have seen the bottom half of the division, and I would imagine it will continue to be that way."