Norwich's top brass abstain from sacking culture

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Harry Engels/Getty ImagesNorwich City manager Chris Hughton appears to have the backing of the club's board.

It is not a refrain heard too often but Norwich City's powerbrokers must be applauded for holding their nerve when it could have so easy to jettison Chris Hughton.

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Premier League management is a volatile industry which, in this of all seasons, appears to perpetuate a culture of short-termism. Steve Clarke was feted at West Brom for guiding the Baggies into the top 10 in his debut campaign, but is now on "gardening leave" after a fourth consecutive defeat at Cardiff City. The Bluebirds themselves increasingly exhibit deep divisions between boardroom and dugout given the latest admonishment from Cardiff owner Vincent Tan towards his manager Malky Mackay after the Scot voiced his opinion regarding the club's potential transfer requirements in January.

The lingering sense of discord around the newly-promoted Welsh outfit is barely concealed underneath the surface following the early season departure of head of recruitment and a key Mackay aide, Iain Moody. Tottenham dispensed with Andre Villas-Boas after dissatisfaction with the Portuguese’s inability to produce an instant dividend on a 100 million pound-plus summer outlay.

Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Fulham have all felt the pressing need to change the man at the helm in a bid to remain Premier League entities next season and beyond. Yet in the middle of this maelstrom you find Hughton and a Norwich board who by their willingness to withstand similar negative currents underline the merits of inaction.

Hughton has routinely endured questions about his own Carrow Road future and suitability to remain in charge at various stages over recent months. That first away league win of the season at Stoke in September was a pressure-relieving moment illustrated by the rare show of emotion that greeted the final whistle in the Potteries from the usually stoic Hughton. Embarrassing hammerings at both Manchester City and Liverpool viewed in isolation were hardly grounds for dismissal, but trailing to West Ham at home after 45 minutes last month felt like another pivotal moment. It is to the eternal credit of Hughton and his players that they swept aside the Hammers in the second half to leave Sam Allardyce fending off the same acidic line of questioning that has been directed at Hughton.

Norwich's astute chief executive David McNally, along with majority shareholder Delia Smith and the rest of the City board, identified Hughton as the man to succeed Paul Lambert after a stratospheric climb from the depths of League One. Hughton's transition brought a mid-table Premier League finish last season and proved the trigger for a club record summer transfer splurge.

That is not a reactive business model but one that recognises the value of stability. Key midfielder Jonny Howson was the latest member of Hughton's squad to extend his contract earlier this week in another visible sign this is a club building for the long term. Hughton will know that should results turn in a downward direction again, he will be thrust back into the harsh spotlight, but if he is, he can count on a considered response from those above.


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