Q&A With Vital Sunderland
I think Hughton is an excellent manager. He did very well to deliver the madhouse that was Newcastle promotion, unfortunately, and in my view, was a little harshly sacked.
Birmingham City was a similarly barmy job with the owner, player departures and Europe to contend with, but again, after a slow start he took it all in his stride and delivered the Play-Off`s.
Taking all that into account, I`d have to say he has done very well so far in his short managerial career and that the Canary`s board have picked a fine replacement for Paul Lambert.
How happy are you with Martin O`Neill?
Yes. It would be easy to sit here and reply 'no` on the basis that we`re doing poorly this season, but history says that O`Neill is also a good manager and he has a long and successful pedigree to back that up.
Thinks haven`t gone well this season - there`s no hiding that fact, but there is definite quality in the squad and if he can use his famed motivational skills and get them playing, there`s the basis of a top-10 side there for sure.
We are hampered by the same problem we have been for years, and that is that outside of the first 13/14 players there isn`t the kind of depth in quality that means he can rotate the side if players are short of form, fitness or confidence.
He hasn`t done everything right, and I would certainly have started Adam Johnson down the left sooner than now, and I would have dropped Stephane Sessegnon a lot sooner. But, overall, a good manager and he certainly did well for the first five months.
Who are your dangermen?
Right now it`s kind of hard to decide because nobody is playing brilliantly.
James McClean, Seb Larsson, Adam Johnson, Stephane Sessegnon and Steven Fletcher are all very good footballers on their day.
However, Fletcher relies on the service of the other four and none of those players are playing at their full capacity right now. If one or two were short of form it wouldn`t be such a big issue. Sadly, all four are struggling and as the creative fulcrum of that team, that`s a real blow.
Which players are you worried about?
Norwich have a lot of thoroughly decent players who aren`t household names. Grant Holt is and always will be a handful, whilst Anthony Pilkington, Robert Snodgrass, Johnny Howson and Christian Tettey are all very adept footballers too.
Where will you finish?
Probably about where we are now. I`d love to say in the top-half but I don`t think it`s in reach on the basis of the appalling start we`ve made. I think, regrettably, this season is a write-off and we are very much in the group of teams trying not to get sucked into the relegation battle.
Where do you think we will finish?
I see no reason why you can`t be comfortably mid-table if not pushing the top-half. I really don`t think you`re going to be pulled into the relegation battle so about the same as last season if not a tad higher seems likely.
Any of our players you really dislike?
Holt`s a bastard isn`t he? He`s all work-rate and bullying. The kind of player you love to have on your team but hate to play against - but only because he`s a thoroughly decent player.