Hughton needs to regain control of his Norwich destiny

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Better to be a lucky manager than a good one they say and right now Chris Hughton is struggling to extricate himself from torrents of bad luck.

Norwich crashed out of the Capital One Cup fourth round Tuesday in a 4-0 midweek reverse to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Nothing remarkable in that given the gulf in relative resources, one underlined by the late arrival of Wayne Rooney from the bench and a watching brief for the likes of Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie.

But it was the collateral damage suffered by the Premier League strugglers that may have more far-reaching ramifications. Robert Snodgrass and Nathan Redmond were both withdrawn in the second half with injuries that appear certain to rule the duo out of the Manchester return trip to Manchester City this weekend at the Etihad.

Snodgrass in particular suffered the type of sickening injury that causes palpable waves of unease around a stadium. The Scot was knocked unconscious and stretchered away with his head in a supportive neck brace after attempting to climb above Rafael Da Silva 6 yards out to test Anders Lindegaard.

The Dane's swift actions to assist Snodgrass underlined the seriousness of an episode which firmly put Norwich’s difficulties to leave any impression on the tie in stark perspective. Snodgrass was taken to hospital for precautionary scans before being released.

Redmond suffered a hip muscle injury that Norwich City’s medical staff will assess in the coming days. With Alex Tettey (ankle) and Ricky van Wolfswinkel (foot) ruled out of the trip to the north-west, Hughton’s problems continue to mount. There was also an undeniable sense of grievance from the manager over Javier Hernandez’s penalty that set United on their way when Leroy Fer was judged to have felled Adnan Januzaj.

Hughton was right to raise a serious question with referee Kevin Friend, but there was little doubt it would have materially altered the outcome. Hughton is being buffeted by fate and misfortune. When he needs a break, it feels as if a conspiracy is engulfing the likeable manager.

Hughton has to routinely deflect questions about his future when he would prefer to speak about the long-term prospects of a squad which is unquestionably better than the group he guided to a mid-table finish in his first term. The one imponderable that Hughton has no direct control over is the prevailing view from the top.

City’s hierarchy have made it publicly clear they expect more than the slim measures delivered to this point of a testing campaign. Hughton and his experienced backroom team know they are at the sharp end of business where success or failure is defined by results, not just the perception the Canaries are moving in the direction and exhibiting a degree of maturity in their style of play. Hughton needs to find the answers to the conundrum.

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