Norwich City: Canaries Fans Must Unite Behind Chris Hughton for WBA Clash

Andy Ward@@Wardy1710Contributor IIMay 9, 2013

NORWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 04:  Chris Hughton the manager of Norwich City during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Aston Villa at Carrow Road on May 04, 2013 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

With one fatal swing of Gabby Agbonlahor's right boot in Aston Villa's 2-1 triumph over Norwich City last weekend, an overwhelming tide of panic swept across Norfolk as it really started to dawn on Canaries fans that their Premier League days could well be numbered.

However, in all honesty, it shouldn't have really come as a great shock because the truth is that Norwich have been nothing short of woeful in the second half of the campaign.

Dire and unadventurous displays at the likes of Wigan and Stoke to name just two, have seen City slide alarmingly close to the relegation zone and such negative football has often achieved exactly what it deserves. Absolutely nothing. 

Being made to sit through such performances on a regular basis has made tough viewing for the majority of Norwich City fans, who are simply not used to being served up such cautiousness. 

This is a club that has always tried to play the game in the right way, a club that has prided itself on playing free-flowing attacking football.

However, those principles have simply been discarded this year in the pursuit of a more contained approach that has ultimately failed to deliver to spectacular effect in this calendar year—with the Canaries having only picked up two wins in 16 games in 2013. 

Fans can probably settle for a lack of entertainment if their team are picking up points on a regular basis, as was the case earlier in the season, but such a limited approach was always likely to be found out by opposing teams eventually, and so it's proved. 

A win for Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night would have really spelled trouble for the Canaries, but as it was, Swansea City delivered the ultimate favour in producing a fantastic, and much needed, 3-2 win.

It means that Norwich now have a lifeline that they probably didn't expect to receive, with the fixture against West Bromwich Albion presenting the club with the chance to all but secure their Premier League safety once and for all.

In order to achieve such a priceless result, every person involved in the club, right through from the fans to the players, must be pulling in the same direction to get Norwich City over the line.

Staying in the top flight really is everything this year, and if Norwich are able to do so, then they will have a truly golden opening to establish themselves for years to come.

Fail to do so, and the reality is that they may not be seen again for some time, with recent history proving just how hard it is to bounce straight back to the Premier League. 

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that Chris Hughton is not exactly the most popular man in Norfolk as things stand, but I would urge all fans to get fully behind him and his team for this one fixture because the stakes really are astronomical.

Negativity from the stands will not benefit anyone and the impressive home form of the club this season just goes to show the passion and influence of the Norwich supporters.

If the club are able to successfully cling onto their Premier League status, then it will have been the narrowest of escapes and valuable lessons should be taken on board for the future.

A significant upgrade in quality in the midfield and attacking areas will need to be sanctioned to ensure that Norwich don't find themselves in this situation again. 

Pace and creativity is desperately lacking, as I pointed out in a previous article in February, and if these problems can be addressed, then things may start to look a lot rosier again next year.

As a result, next season may indeed be the time to judge Chris Hughton, who will have hopefully benefited from heavier investment in the squad than he was entitled to 12 months ago.

Of course, such plans naturally have to be put on hold until Norwich mathematically ensure that they will still be playing Premier League football again next year, but Sunday's clash with the Baggies marks a wonderful opportunity to achieve that goal.

Swansea's victory in Lancashire handed the Canaries one final chance to put things right.

Now, it's up to them to grasp it with both hands. 

Follow Andy Ward on Twitter


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