Sport Soccer

Saturday 17 March 2018

I won’t be worrying about Man United, says Chris Hughton

Jim van Wijk

NORWICH manager Chris Hughton is not about to drive himself mad worrying about Manchester United's quality, and will instead focus on his own team.

United head to Norfolk tomorrow leading the Barclays Premier League table after a battling 3-2 win at Aston Villa, where they overturned a two-goal deficit.

England striker Wayne Rooney is a major doubt because of an ankle injury, but in-form Dutchman Robin van Persie should be fit, while Javier Hernandez is pressing for a place in the starting XI.

Hughton, though, maintains he cannot overly concern himself about what United will bring to the table for the early evening televised encounter and just concentrate on getting the Canaries to reproduce the form which has earned them eight points out of the last 12.

"It is a problem because of the quality Manchester United have got, so you have to make sure that, as a team, you are set up well enough that you are going to be difficult to play against," Hughton said.

"You have to make yourself harder to beat and harder to penetrate, but you also have to have a share of the game because if you sit back for 90 minutes, there is only going to be one outcome.

"But you can't drive yourself mad, there are so many different avenues United have and you have to put more emphasis on your own team.

"It is not a game where you are going in settling to lose. We are going in to get a result. How are we going to get a result? That is what our main emphasis has to be."

Hughton maintains Norwich must believe they can cause an upset tomorrow, going one better than last season where United ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a stoppage-time goal from Ryan Giggs on his 900th appearance.

"It is a defeatist attitude heading into any game admitting you are not going to win - you have to go into the game demanding that you play well enough to win it," Hughton continued.

"Ultimately, against the quality of teams like Manchester United, you can play well enough and still lose the game, but if you are not playing well enough, you don't have that opportunity.

"We will need every bit of what we have shown in the last few weeks to get something from the game, but it is possible."

Hughton did not enjoy the best of starts to his reign at Carrow Road, after he was appointed as successor to Paul Lambert, who left for Aston Villa.

However, after leaking 17 goals in the first seven league games, including five at home to Liverpool and four at Chelsea, the Canaries have developed into a much more efficient unit since the last international break.

The goalless draw at Reading was a third clean sheet in four league outings, and they shut out both Arsenal and Stoke in the previous two home matches.

Hughton accepts that hard work must continue if Norwich are to stay clear of being dragged into a season-long relegation battle.

"Achievements can be very temporary," the former Newcastle and Birmingham boss said.

"If I looked at the last few games, yes, we have been a harder team to break down, and that is something which has to continue."

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