With Paul Lambert gone, Norwich fans travelled to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham on the opening day of the season somewhat unsure of what to expect.
Their deepest fears were confirmed in a very lacklustre display, as they slumped to a 5-0 defeat. Having held their own in the early encounters, it was a simple cross-field ball which found Damien Duff with acres of space to run into and he made no mistake.
From there on in, Norwich’s defence self destructed. New signing Michael Turner hardly covered himself in glory, giving away a cheap penalty to allow Steve Sidwell to score the fifth.
Nevertheless, a positive performance on home soil against QPR saw Norwich pick up their first point of the season. Javier Garrido and Sebastian Bassong made their debuts in the defence, and certainly shored up the cracks. A crowd of 26,000 watched Simeon Jackson head home 11 minutes into the game. QPR’s equaliser had an element of controversy attached, with Bobby Zamora nipping in for the easiest goal he’ll score this season. Norwich responded well and nearly won it at the death, as Russell Martin headed onto the crossbar.
The QPR result was followed by an impressive draw at Tottenham. Norwich matched Spurs throughout in every department and it took substitute Moussa Dembele to break their stubborn resistance on 68 minutes. Being away from home, many would have expected a Tottenham onslaught thereafter, but Norwich reacted well and got their just reward when Robert Snodgrass powered home late on. The Canaries could have won the game well into injury time, Bradley Johnson seeing his shot saved by an inspired Brad Friedel.
It’s too early to gauge exactly what sort of season is in store for Norwich. The aim is clearly survival, with anything else a bonus. The last two games have shown the belief and togetherness which Lambert cemented, and Hughton, a shrewd operator, appears to have adopted the same approach.
Grant Holt looked dangerous against Tottenham, and Steve Morison, looked like a man with a point to prove. Snodgrass is an intelligent purchase too, adding set piece ability to the midfield, as well as having the ability to shoot from range.
Goals will not be Norwich’s problem; it is in defence where their season could potentially be defined. Kyle Naughton has returned to Spurs, having been a success last season, and their new signings will need to gel quickly to avoid future drubbings.
Hopefully Norwich can prove the critics wrong, and establish themselves as a Premier League club.