Is Chris Hughton's time as Norwich manager up?

Norwich City

Norwich's poor start to the season under Chris Hughton illustrates a decline that will worry even the most optimistic Canaries fans.

The early season failings of Chris Hughton are impossible to ignore, even for his most ardent supporters. Despite all the pre-season optimism and the club's £26m summer spending splurge, Hughton's Canaries find themselves in the relegation zone, narrowly sitting above the one point per game average, with nine points from eight games so far this season.

Norwich's 4-0 sinking courtesy of Manchester United in midweek League Cup action provided yet another downer for Canaries fans who entered the campaign with much cause for optimism.

Rightly so, after their club completed the capture of Ricky Van Wolfswinkel for a club record fee of £8.5m this summer, as well as adding Leroy Fer, Gary Hooper as well as hot England prospect Nathan Redmond. The stage was set for improvement on last season's 11th place finish, with many Norwich fans primed with European dreams.

So what exactly has gone wrong?

Many Norwich fans lay the blame at Hughton's door. The former Newcastle United boss has frequently been criticised by a sizeable portion of the fan base for being too conservative, opting to employ defensive tactics, leaving out the creative talents of the likes of Wes Hoolahan. Meanwhile, Hughton's tactical outlook has often seen Norwich line up with just one recognised striker, something that appears to be largely unpopular with supporters. Notably, during Hughton's spell as manager, Grant Holt's prolific reputation in front of goal came to an end, with just eight goals in thirty-four goals, the Cumbrian unable to recreate the form he enjoyed under Paul Lambert.

Perhaps the transition in tactics has simply provided too much of a culture shock to sections of the Canaries' support? Famed for free-flowing attacking play and a bravery to challenge the opposition under Paul Lambert and throughout the club's ascent through the Football League, Norwich fans have had to become far more accustomed to a perhaps more uncomfortable style of player since Hughton's arrival from Birmingham City.

Norwich find themselves nestled in the relegation zone, the side have won just one of their last six games in the Premier League, that being a 1-0 away victory over fellow strugglers Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. Their only other win this season came in a 1-0 home display against Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton. In nine league games, the side have only on one occasion scored more than one solitary goal, whilst they have conceded a depressing thirteen, far outweighing the six goals scored by the Norfolk outfit.

How the blame has ended up at Hughton's door is perfectly clear. For a system aimed at defensive efficiency and clinical play in front of goal, his tactics have spectacularly failed to provide either.

The board members of Norwich City Football Club now find themselves at a crossroads in their season. They can maintain faith in Hughton, in-keeping with their model for the running of the club, in the hope that Hughton will engineer a turnaround, such as that seen by the likes of Paul Lambert and Nigel Adkins at Aston Villa and Southampton last season. Or, they can opt to force Hughton out of the Carrow Road exit, in hope of reinvigorating the ambition and optimism that flowed throughout their pre-season build-up.

With Hughton rapidly losing the faith of the fans, just how much longer he can stumble on is increasingly being called into question. In a season in which the club hoped to be making significant strides forward, the signs point to a club that is slipping into decline.


Should Hughton go - or does he deserve more time yet?

image: © pittaya

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