sport

Hughton: No fear for my future

Chris Hughton says he is not fearing for his Norwich future after a 4-1 loss at Aston Villa that he "didn't see coming".

In an important clash away to Premier League relegation rivals on Sunday, Hughton saw his side put in an impressive opening spell at Villa Park having gone in front through Wes Hoolahan's strike after just three minutes.

But the Canaries then collapsed, with Villa hitting four goals without reply in the space of 16 first-half minutes. First Christian Benteke equalised in style from Ron Vlaar's cross before the Belgium striker headed home Ashley Westwood's corner. Leandro Bacuna struck a fine third past John Ruddy and Sebastien Bassong put through his own net to complete Norwich's misery.

City are 15th in the Premier League table after 28 rounds played, and have a four-point lead over 18th-placed Sunderland who have two games in hand.

When asked in the post-match press conference whether he felt he would still have the next 10 games, Hughton replied: "I put all of my efforts into the job I do, so it (his future) is not something I think about.

"The only way I can affect things is by getting the results we need.

"We are one of 10 teams in the bottom half of the table that has had difficulties at some stage.

"So all of my efforts and thoughts go into preparing the team, trying to do the best job I can, hoping to get good enough results."

Hughton admitted the manner of the thrashing at the hands of a Villa team that had only scored 12 league goals at home all season before Sunday was a major cause for alarm.

"As a team, we have to take it on the chin; as a manager I have to accept any criticism that comes my way after a defeat," added Hughton.

"You have to lick your wounds. It's a low point at the moment because we came into the game in good form, so this is a real hammer blow.

"But you have to assess, and we weren't good enough. That's a fact. We were beaten, and well beaten in that 16-minute period.

"But this is difficult because this is a result I didn't see coming."

Hughton demanded better from his defenders after they were blown away by Villa. The City boss was disappointed his side could not handle the "power and pace" of the home team during their first-half scoring spell.

He told Sky Sports: "For 25 minutes, I thought we played very well. We started the game well, got a goal and could have got a second.

"One thing you have to do here - they can get a crowd behind them and you have to quieten that crowd and we certainly did that.

"But in a 15-minute period, we conceded the one goal and they turned up the power and pace and we couldn't handle it for that 15 minutes.

"If you can't handle it, you have to make sure you don't concede and in a bad period for us we, of course, conceded the goals and at that stage there's no coming back from that."

Hughton, whose side defeated Tottenham 1-0 last time out following a four-match winless streak, called on his defence to learn from this defeat.

He added: "We should have done better.

"You can't allow them to play the type of balls in, particularly to somebody with the power Christian Benteke's got, but as defenders we've got to deal with that better.

"It's part and parcel of the game and he is no doubt on top form an exceptional player but you have to deal with those things.

"Even at 2-1, if you accepted Benteke's power allowed him to get the two goals that he got, then we have to gather as a team and make sure that at 2-1 we stay in the game.

"But we didn't and their pace took over from that moment and at 4-1 down there's no coming back."

The Canaries return to Carrow Road to host Stoke next Saturday, knowing victory would move them above the Potters in the table.