Friday 19 December 2014

Points, not quality, excite Howson

Published 07/03/2014 | 15:47

Jonny Howson returned from injury last weekend
Jonny Howson returned from injury last weekend

Midfielder Jonny Howson would be happy for Norwich to start "winning ugly" to keep themselves in the Barclays Premier League.

The Canaries host Stoke on Saturday looking for an instant response after last weekend's 4-1 trashing at Aston Villa, where they had taken an early lead only to be blown away by a blistering 16-minute spell from the home side to end the contest before half-time.

Chris Hughton's men have endured many a frustrating afternoon over the course of what has been an inconsistent season and left them still looking over their shoulders, just four points above the drop zone.

Howson - who returned from two months out because of a back problem with a late substitute appearance at Villa Park - believes at this stage of the season it has to be all about the end result rather than reflecting on some promising displays which have failed to deliver come the final whistle.

"In the last few weeks, when I have been watching on, we have been playing good stuff, looking comfortable, but come the end we have lost the game and you are thinking 'how has that happened?', said the former Leeds midfielder, who is pressing for a start.

"It is maybe that knowhow of winning ugly - sometimes the top teams do that, they don't play great, but seem to come away with the win and that is what we maybe need to improve."

Howson, 25, added: "Some of the performances recently have been very good, it is just what matters most, stopping them scoring.

"We need to pick up some points where we not play too well, but come away with something.

"Recently we have had the opposite, where we have been playing well, but not picking up the points.

"You would take playing 10 terrible games, but getting enough points to see you safe.

"It is a case of getting the points however it comes.

"There will be no point us sat here at the end of the season us saying 'we played great in those final 10 games', but came away with no points.

"You ask any player what would they choose - three points or a good performance? I know which one the majority would take."

Hughton has seen his position under scrutiny all season, having shelled out some £20million-plus in the summer to bolster his squad.

Indeed, chief executive David McNally warned the board would consider their options should Norwich slip into the bottom three, only for Hughton's men to pull off a much-needed win over Tottenham in their last home fixture.

Howson, though, insists the squad are "all behind" the Canaries boss, who guided the Norfolk club to an 11th-place finish last season.

"We have never really been in the bottom three, but the manager's future keeps getting mentioned and I don't really know what people are expecting, I think he is doing a great job," said Howson.

"We are all behind him, you can see that from the home game against Tottenham, it showed we are all together, that has not changed.

"We know what goes on behind closed doors and know that everyone is together, players and staff, and I cannot see that changing."

Norwich hope to have striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel (knee) and winger Robert Snodgrass (wrist) available.

Defenders Joseph Yobo (muscle strain) and Martin Olsson (shoulder) are also in the squad despite missing out on international friendlies for Nigeria and Sweden respectively with minor knocks.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes believes the video review disciplinary process is "fundamentally flawed" and feels midfielder Charlie Adam was subject to trial by media.

The Scotland international was banned for three matches this week after an independent panel adjudged he was guilty of violent conduct for stamping on Olivier Giroud in Saturday's 1-0 win over Arsenal.

Potters chief executive Tony Scholes said he was "not surprised because clubs like ours very rarely succeed in appeals to the FA" and Hughes felt Adam had suffered from the incident not being assessed contemporaneously.

"I think the process is fundamentally flawed," said Hughes.

"If the game was reviewed by the people who were actually there on the day, immediately after the game, then any decision after that in terms of possible incidents missed in the game you would accept there was maybe something to investigate, because the people involved knew the context of the game rather than allowing trial by media.

"By the time the decision (to ban Adam) was made on the Wednesday I think the agenda was set.

"We went through the process because we felt so strongly about it but we felt there was so little chance of it being successful because of the process.

"It has to be preferable to asking three referees, who are probably doing something else, to come together and review something out of context and make a decision based on what they see.

"As soon as the referee says he has not seen the incident - which we have a view on - then it goes to the panel but I just think when the game is taken out of context and it is slowed down to the 'nth' degree it can look worse than it is.

"The annoying thing is we can never question a referee's integrity - and we wouldn't - but when we get the written report back it questioned the integrity of my player. They can't have it two ways."

Forward Peter Odemwingie could return to the Stoke squad after a calf problem but Marko Arnautovic is a doubt after returning from international duty with Austria with a hamstring strain. Meanwhile, defender Geoff Cameron did not train on Friday after playing 90 minutes for the USA.

Press Association

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