Stoke are role models for aspiring teams says Norwich manager Chris Hughton

 

Norwich manager Chris Hughton insists Stoke are the perfect role model for any aspiring top-flight team like his own.

Norwich earned a hugely-impressive 12th place finish last season after returning to the Barclays Premier League, but they have found the going tough this year.

Just two points separate the Canaries and their visitors Stoke this weekend, but the bookmakers consider the Hughton's side far more likely to go down to the npower Championship this year.

The Potters were also tipped for a swift return to the second tier after the won promotion in 2008, but they have since gone on to record steady mid-table finishes in the four years that have followed and they have also played in Europe by virtue of their FA Cup final appearance last summer.

Their long-ball game often attracts criticism, but Hughton, who took over at Carrow Road this season, thinks the Staffordshire club should be viewed as a shining example of how teams can get promoted and stay there with relative stability.

"They are an excellent role model for the likes of ourselves," Hughton said. "In this division after getting promotion you normally have a few tough years but they have improved every year and have brought in better quality every year.

"They are is a very well established Premier League team now.

"I'm sure they couldn't bring in someone of the quality of Michael Owen six or seven years ago."

Pulis' side have started this campaign well, picking up points against Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal.

For that reason, Hughton is wary that his own team's recent good form may unravel when the Potters come to Carrow Road tomorrow.

"Stoke are really tough opposition," the 53-year-old said. "The quality of the players that they have brought in is good. "They are a hard-working, well-disciplined team with good quality in their side and they have had some really tough games already.

"That's why it will be difficult when we play them."

While praising tomorrow's opponents, Hughton was also quick to hail his team's recent turnaround in fortunes.

The Canaries had to wait seven games until they registered their first win of the season, but they have not looked back since the 1-0 victory over Arsenal two weeks ago.

They were desperately unlucky not to take all three points from last weekend's draw at Aston Villa and Hughton's second string stunned Tottenham in the last 16 of the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night.

The joy of the players who came in to that match was clear to see at the final whistle, but Hughton thinks the win over Spurs has lifted his entire squad ahead of tomorrow's game against Stoke.

"The win wasn't about the 11 that started the game, it was about the players that weren't playing too," Hughton said.

"Those who weren't involved in the match were in the changing room before the game and at half-time and after the game too.

"They were delighted for the lads that played.

"That gives us a feel-good factor within the squad. Now we have to do that on a regular basis."

PA

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