Chris Hughton is the Prem's great sack survivor

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)Chris Hughton might not survive if results don't go his way. But he's still fighting in the meantime, and with his players' support.

Norwich City boss Chris Hughton is rapidly forging a reputation as the Premier League's great managerial survivor.

Swansea's decision to end their flirtation with Michael Laudrup just days after the transfer window closed -- and on the eve of a pivotal Welsh derby against Cardiff City -- appears a huge call on so many levels.

The man who guided them to a first major trophy and into the later stages of the Europa League is now deemed lacking in the requisite skills required for a survival scrap, which is where Swansea find themselves after one win in eight league games. Just like Norwich, Cardiff and arguably every other club below ninth.

Hughton and West Ham counterpart Sam Allardyce are the only managers in the current bottom seven who were in charge of the same club back in August on the opening day of the new Premier League campaign. Even in such a volatile, insecure profession, that is a staggering statistic. Hughton has routinely had to deflect questions on whether he is the right man to lead the Canaries this season, but the only answer that really mattered has come from inside the Carrow Road boardroom.

City's top brass has maintained a united front when it may have been easier to adopt the strategy of choice seemingly in vogue elsewhere in the Premier League -- where the financial disparities from relegation cast an ominous shadow over every key decision.

Hughton walked off the team coach for the recent FA Cup replay defeat at Fulham to be greeted by a pocket of travelling City fans and a banner declaring it was time for him to go. Norwich slipped meekly out of the cup on a miserable evening, but they did win the game they needed to later that week against Hull City in the Premier League.

That has been the common theme; when Hughton has badly needed a result, his players have delivered. Given the widely publicised reports of player unrest within the Swans' squad, that is surely a pivotal factor for Hughton's own survival chances -- as well as those of the Canaries in the English top flight.

Norwich's collective remain tight-knit and fully behind their manager, despite maddeningly inconsistent form. Wes Hoolahan's rather public transfer saga proved an unwanted distraction during the January window, but that was symptomatic of one player's desire to play more regularly during the twilight of his career rather than an indicator of widespread discontent inside the Carrow Road changing room.

When cornered on his own career prospects, Hughton's responses have been consistent. His fate will be decided by results. Norwich's hierarchy reiterated following the recent FA Cup exit to the Cottagers his brief is to keep the club out of the bottom three.

City have a hellishly difficult run of league fixtures against the title principals during the final month of the season but before then they play seven of the current bottom 10. That brings Hughton and the Canaries into direct contact with rivals who have opted to plot a different course and embrace managerial change. The outcome of such battles will decide who adopted the right strategy.


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