Norwich beat Hull City 1-0 on Saturday, thanks to an 87th minute header by Ryan Bennett. According to the goalscorer, the Canaries were bolstered by a banner reading “Hughton Out.”
But not in the way you might think. The banner wasn’t waving at Carrow Road, encouraging the sacking of Norwich City manager Chris Hughton to the home faithful and players alike. Instead it was displayed at Craven Cottage on Tuesday, during the FA Cup replay against Fulham. The Canaries lost 3-0, knocking them out of the Cup.
Rather than spurn the players into action against the beleaguered manager, however, the fans’ banner served to do the opposite. “There’s no need for that,” Bennett told BBC Radio Norfolk, “You see that and it spurs you on and you don’t understand what they’re thinking. We went out there to do the best for the whole group, that’s the staff and players.”
And in so doing, Norwich’s performance, and Bennett’s goal, may have saved Hughton’s job – at least, for a few more weeks. With the three points against Hull, the side have now moved up to 12th. That doesn’t mean they’re sitting safe, as it’s just five points from the relegation zone. But it does end the Canaries’ six-game winless streak in the Premier League, and will most likely bolster confidence amongst the players.
The Norwich City fans that hung the banner at Fulham didn’t succeed in getting the manager sacked. Yet they may have won the larger battle: uniting the players, giving them one more reason to press a little harder, dig a little deeper. Absent the first fifteen or so minutes, Norwich looked the better side on Saturday, giving more than a glimpse of a squad that shouldn’t be fighting for Premier League survival. So while no club wants to encourage its supporters to turn against the manager, perhaps this banner accomplished its true purpose – driving the Canaries toward victory.