Norwich Focus – Hughton the right man in the hotseat

Norwich City’s season resumes on Saturday, but it will be a tough proposition as Everton come to Carrow Road. The high-flying Toffees are chasing Champions League football, although speculation about the future of their boss David Moyes and his future remains in the air.

These two clubs don’t make panic decisions when it comes to hiring and firing managers, but there is also no love lost between the two following an incident at the start of 1994.

Mike Walker has guided the Canaries to third place in the inaugural Premier League season, and spearheaded them to the famous triumph in Munich in the UEFA Cup. However, he had a bitter feud with his chairman Robert Chase about transfer policy, angered by his decision to sell stars like Ruel Fox to Newcastle United without his consultation.

Walker swapped East Anglia for Merseyside – an unsuccessful switch which only lasted 10 months, as he was sacked in November 1994 for guiding Everton through the club’s worst start to a season in their proud history.

Everton eventually had to pay a major compensation fee to Norwich, but not before Chase accused the club of making an illegal approach for Walker’s services. Since then, relations have thawed between the clubs, but the incident has never been forgotten by some around Norwich.

Nowadays, the current hierarchy is stable at Norwich and that is down to the fine work of chairman Alan Bowkett, chief executive David McNally and majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones.

When Paul Lambert elected to quit for Aston Villa in the summer, there was no panic from the board – unlike many other teams in the past, who have made rash appointments which have spectacularly backfired. Candidates were assessed and analysed before the job was offered to Chris Hughton.

It was a smart decision, as Hughton has developed an impressive coaching and now, managerial portfolio of dealing with pressure in difficult circumstances. After spending 14 years on the coaching staff at Tottenham, he went to Newcastle United in 2008 and got them promoted at the first attempt, breaking a number of Championship records in the process.

Having got them up to 12th on their Premier League return in December 2010, including a 5-1 delightful derby success over Sunderland, many considered him harshly sacked by Mike Ashley.

As dignified as ever, Hughton took the disappointment on the chin, and holds no grudges over Ashley’s poor treatment of him. He went to Birmingham, and guided the club to fourth place last season, amidst huge financial restrictions. The Blues’ decline under Lee Clark this term – having had his own success at Huddersfield – indicates just what a great job Hughton did at St. Andrews.

The 54-year-old has done well again at Carrow Road on a tight budget. Anyone who claims that he is only a good coach, and doesn’t have managerial pedigree, needs to rethink their thoughts. It has been a spell of shaky form, but there is no doubt that Norwich has got the right man to turn things around.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Norwich v Everton

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