Norwich chief claims 'relegation worse than death'
CHRIS HUGHTON has said Wes Hoolahan will not be allowed to leave Carrow Road this month, but the Norwich manager could be on the way out himself after chief executive David McNally indicated he would do whatever necessary to avoid relegation.
The former Irish international is under pressure after the dreadful performance in the midweek FA Cup defeat to Fulham led to renewed speculation about his future.
His sparing use of Hoolahan is one of the main criticisms aimed in his direction by irate Norwich supporters and they chanted the name of the unused sub in the opening minutes at Craven Cottage.
Afterwards, when specifically about the Aston Villa target, the Norwich boss said: "At the moment our concentration is on improving the squad, not on letting players go out," he said. "We've had a few injuries and especially in midfield."
However, Hughton may feel slightly uneasy about his own position following an interview McNally gave to local radio where he spelled out his fears regarding the drop.
McNally said that his manager was fulfilling his 'brief' by staying outside the bottom three, but the Canaries, who sit 15th, are just two points off the relegation zone and three points off last place, so they could be in trouble if they fail to beat Hull this weekend.
"We will not contemplate relegation. In a sporting sense, it is worse than death," said McNally. "He (Hughton) is preparing the team for Saturday. The brief is to keep out of the bottom three and that is what we are doing.
"We are in the entertainment business and results are the only thing that matters. Whether Chris has a long term at Norwich City or whether I do, it is about how well we do in our jobs and the only real measure is results. We are down there with 11 other teams separated by six points and we do not have the budget that a number of our peers have."
Norwich supporters have expressed dissatisfaction with their style of play, arguing that Hoolahan would give them a more creative outlet as opposed to Hughton's direct approach.
"We have a history of playing attractive football," said McNally. "And the board is absolutely committed to playing attractive football. We are in a trough where performances have disappointed at times and results have not been what we liked."
"I would prefer death rather than relegation. There is nothing more important than keeping this football club in the Premier League. We are all focused on that."
Hughton will have the services of Anthony Pilkington again for the Hull match. The Irish international has spent so much time on the sidelines this season that he is verging on 'forgotten man' status, but he has returned to full training in time for the crunch encounter.