Preparation not precision defined Norwich City’s American adventure

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesDespite losing to the Portland Timbers of MLS, Steven Whittaker and Norwich City enjoyed a productive preseason US tour.

Chris Hughton fittingly had the final word on Norwich City's west coast tour of America. Standing pitchside as the lights went out at the Portland Timbers' atmospheric JELD-WEN stadium last week after watching his squad slip to a second and self-inflicted friendly defeat to MLS opposition, Hughton's vast experience had armed him with a well-developed sense of perspective.

The game has been his life. Hughton has endured the grind of too many phoney war periods to recall -- first as a decorated player with Tottenham and then as a successful coach and manager in his own right. Norwich's manager reflected on plenty of average pre-season campaigns which were precursors to encouraging starts once league business arrived and vice versa.

Hughton never has, nor ever will judge the vitality of a summer campaign through the filter of positive results in meaningless friendlies. Fitness and team bonding were the buzzwords around City's touring party in California and Oregon. New players have been assimilated into the culture of the Canaries. The process of inculcating a philosophy and style of play that Hughton demands from his players will not have been lost on the likes of Leroy Fer and Ricky van Wolfswinkel. That work took place well away from the shop window against Dorados de Sinaloa and then the San Jose Earthquakes and the Timbers.

Hughton by his competitive nature knows City collectively need that hard-edge and winning mentality to succeed in the unforgiving environment of the Premier League. But for now, it is less about a lack of goals from his remodelled strike force -- which has been embellished by Gary Hooper's arrival since their return to the UK -- or the personal defensive aberrations which defined City's two 1-0 MLS defeats.

Norwich head to Brighton on Tuesday night for their first senior friendly on home soil before a trio of fresh continental opposition signposts the lead up to Everton on August 17. Hughton demanded a step up in intensity for City's return across the Atlantic and there were encouraging signs in the opening period against the Timbers. Wes Hoolahan and van Wolfswinkel were paired in creative tandem for the first time in Norwich colours. Robert Snodgrass and the impressive Nathan Redmond offered width and guile as they roamed across City's frontline. Portland had their moments on the counter but a battle-hardened Norwich would have been out of sight by half-time. That is the point. This is still the height of summer and not the white hot heat of a Premier League weekend with points and places at stake. The precision will come for the Canaries; as Hughton headed for the light at the exit of the JELD-WEN Stadium he could reflect on planting some firm foundations on American soil.

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