The Hull Preview
So many issues, so little time.
Let's get straight down to business; Fulham away in the cup simply wasn't good enough. It was below par, incredibly disappointing and both the players and coaching staff will know that more is expected of them.
The biggest problem, and one many have been sounding off about on phone-ins and social media, is the lack of confidence which seems to be setting in. And I'm inclined to agree with them.
The fact that the players truly do want to win and to do well must never be in question. There isn't a single person out there who doesn't want to do well and win, or at the very least has the will to.
But when you're lacking confidence, it's hard to keep focused and the pressure at this level can eat you alive if you're not careful.
Normally when a situation such as that arises, the fans are called upon to get behind the team and will them on. Absolutely agree with that sentiment. Only problem? The fans are ALREADY doing it when they go to games.
Away from home, our boys are always applauded off the pitch. At home, there may be more moans and groans but generally speaking the fans have backed the team in a positive manner at CR. So nobody should question whether or not the fans actually get behind the players.
So, we've got players low in confidence, despite having a decent crowd backing them and trying to gee them up. What's the answer?
To be brutally honest, I do put it down to the manager, though not necessarily because of his tactics.
When it comes to formations, I don't think his set-ups have been too erratic and normally he tries to cover as many bases as he possibly can. Individual errors have cost them dearly, but his actual set-ups and game-plans haven't been as bad as many would lead you to believe, even when you look at our situation.
The biggest problem is that the players just don't feel like running through brick walls for the manager.
Under Lambert, many of the players went the extra mile for him. He inspired those around him and in return, they'd give him nothing less than 100%. Chris Hughton just doesn't inspire that same gusto and hunger in his players.
But the blame here can't fall squarely at Hughton's door: Colin Calderwood is another part of the managerial staff who I think equally fails to inspire his troops. In this regard, the entire management team need to take responsibility.
That, more than anything else, is why I think one more defeat will ultimately seal Hughton's fate.
What we need next is a people person. Someone who can inspire. A real leader of men who builds a good rapport with the players, so that they in return give the new manager every ounce of sweat they can possibly muster.
Tactically, strategically, we can debate formations and strategies all day long. But without that key ingredient I just described, we're looking at a bleak second half of the season.
On with the show.
Anthony Pilkington and Alex Tetty are both fit and are both back in the squad. Jonas Gutierrez is eligible to make his debut.
Hull will have Nikica Jelavic available after the striker completed a £6.5million move from Everton and possibly Shane Long if he completes his medical after moving from West Brom.
Form Guide (This gets more and more depressing every week)
Norwich - LLDDLL
The losses to Fulham and Man United (league) starts this sequence, before draws with Palace and Fulham in the 3rd Round proper respectively. Then come the defeats by Everton and Fulham (again!) in the cup replay.
Hull City AFC - DLWLWL
Hull have been performing well recently even with those defeats creeping in. They drew with West Brom and narrowly lost to Man United to start this spell before putting SIX past Fulham. They lost to Liverpool and Chelsea next in the league, but did knock Middlesborough out of the FA Cup to move into round 4.
Last time we met
The last time these two met at Carrow Road was in a Championship fixture on the 25th of September 2010, where Hull ultimately ran out 0-2 winners thanks to goals from Robert Koren and Tom Cairney. It's a game which the Canaries largely dominated but just couldn't get the goal to press home the advantage, and Hull made them pay late on.
The last time we met altogether was the now infamous game in which Hull had Yannick Sagbo sent off, yet they still held on to a 1-0 lead after Robbie Brady put away a spot-kick.
Head to Head stat
Norwich haven't beaten Hull in their last five competitive outings.
What's in store this time?
Do or die for Hughton. Enough said.