Norwich City sacked their manager Chris Hughton last night
Some will undoubtedly question the timing, with only 5 games of the Premier League season remaining, but The Canaries have won only once in their last 6 games. They sit 17th in the table with 32 points to their name, and they have only scored only 26 goals, all damning statistics that show Norwich are slipping ever closer to the trap door. Something needed to be done, and I think the board have taken a calculated risk.
Sunderland are the team everyone seems to be worried about at the moment, given their games in hand on the teams above them. That they have games in hand is, of course, an advantage, but when you consider their next 4 games are Tottenham, Man City and Chelsea away, with high-flying Everton also to come at the Stadium of Light, then you start to see that it will be incredibly difficult for them to use that advantage.
Therefore, with The Canaries 5 points clear of Fulham, 6 off Cardiff and 7 (currently) from Sunderland, Norwich may well need only one more win and a draw to see themselves safe from the chasing pack. A new voice in the dugout may give the team that spike in performance that sometimes comes with the appointment of a new manager, while keeping Hughton would mean relying on his ability to spark a sagging team into life; something he has failed to do all season, in truth. The points they have have been scrambled together with mediocre performances and reasonable defensive competency at Carrow Road.
The main problem Hughton has faced this season is his team's lack of identity, personality and style. Hughton is a competent manager who has proven in the past he can steady a ship in difficult circumstances. The jobs he did at Newcastle and Birmingham were calm, assured and solid. However, Norwich's ship has started to leak too much water in recent weeks. The vessel needs to get to the port of Premier League safety, and steady isn't what's needed now. What's needed are goals and clean sheets, which have been in short supply at the Norfolk club.
Crystal Palace have scored fewer goals than Norwich, but Tony Pulis' defensive organisation and rigid 4-4-2 system has seen them concede only 39 goals to Norwich's 52. That is what will keep The Eagles up. Norwich have had no source of regular goals this season, but neither have they had a solid defender who has inspired team mates to grimy 0-0 draws and scrappy 1-0 wins, results which are important to survival.
Their negative 4-5-1 system hasn't helped them at all. Their striker, be it Van Wolfswinkel or Hooper, has been left hopelessly isolated, with Robert Snodgrass the only player looking capable of causing defences problems at times. Their midfield is not nearly creative enough to make the system work, and not defensively competent enough to make them difficult to score against. The backline hasn't been terrible individually, but they've been given too much work to do by the players in front of them.
Neil Adams is well known at the club, and will hopefully inspire Norwich's team to better, and more effective, performances. Chris Hughton will get another job before long, but I feel his time was up at Norwich anyway. It was a matter of keeping things steady until the end of the season or shaking things up. I don't think anyone should be too critical of the board for their decision, as the atmosphere of sterility and gloom surrounding a club so often associated with colour and flair needed lifting.
For Norwich fans' sakes, I hope Neil Adams is the man to do it.
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