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Premier League: pressure grows on Norwich's Chris Hughton- but how high can Norwich fan's expectations realistically be?

 

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The life of a Premier League manager guarantees at least one thing- pressure. And Norwich's Chris Hughton is certainly feeling that right now.  

Even before his side were demolished 7-0 at the hands of a rampant Manchester City, Hughton had the undesirable tag of being the bookie's favourite to be the next Premier League manager to face the axe. The fact Martin Jol has now overtaken him at 5/6 reflects more on Jol's position than Hughton's however.

On the face of it, it's perhaps understandable that some Norwich fans are growing restless. Ten games into the season, Norwich sit in the relegation zone, with only two wins, and a meagre six goals, the joint worst in the league alongside bottom club Crystal Palace.

In fact, Norwich are the only team currently in the drop zone that still have the same manager they had at the start of the season, with Palace and Sunderland having parted ways with Ian Holloway and Paolo Di Canio respectively.

Holloway's departure from Palace can perhaps be construed as something of an enigma- a manager openly admitting he isn't up to the task, and stepping aside for another to take his place. Cynics might argue that it was the jump before the push, but most who saw Holloway's candid press conference would argue otherwise.

As unconventional as Holloway's departure was, the writing was on the wall for Di Canio for some time. Widespread reports of mass unrest in the dressing room over his ultra strict, totalitarian approach were being mooted weeks before he was eventually shown the door.

To then look at Hughton's position compared to that of the two managers mentioned above perhaps gives some perspective on how bad things are at Carrow Road presently.

Yes, they sit in the relegation zone, but only one win away from Swansea in 13th and the comfort of mid-table. Norwich were the seventh team this season to be in the relegation places when they dropped there at the start of October, and they undoubtedly won't be the last.

The fight for survival in the Premier League hasn't really begun in earnest, with Palace and to a lesser extent the only teams presently who need to be worried in any major capacity- something reflected in their recent managerial changes.

To sack Hughton then would surely be an admission by the club that Norwich were in trouble, that they hit the panic button when things weren't going well. That is unless the club felt that expectations weren't being met beyond survival. After all, Hughton spent a lot of money in the summer, and that does bring a certain amount of expectation in it's own right.

But what exactly would these expectations be?

A top six finish would be absurd to all but the most optimistic of Norwich fans, whilst a top ten finish would leave them battling it out with 'the best of the rest' for whom European football is not achievable.

A top half finish is a big ask but not unthinkable. In the last two seasons since their return to the top flight Norwich have finished 11th and 12th respectively, so surely a similar finish would be just as acceptable?

But whilst the difference between 11th and 10th might mean a slightly higher amount of prize money, it's hardly going to drastically change the stature of the club.

For clubs like Norwich ultimately, staying in this league is of paramount importance, and given that realistically, they have little else to go for in the league, should surely be their only concern right now.

So keep the pressure on Hughton by all means, but we should remember that survival in the League holds more value long term than one or two places in the middle of the table, and Hughton surely deserves a fair chance of achieving it.

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