Hoolahan celebrates new Norwich contract extension with winner
Norwich City 2 Wigan Athletic 1Manager Chris Hughton does not envisage having any problem keeping Norwich grounded after a win over Wigan extended their unbeaten run to 10 Premier League games.
The Canaries bounced back from their midweek League Cup exit at the hands of Aston Villa, and former boss Paul Lambert, to record a fifth straight home league victory with goals from Anthony Pilkington and Wes Hoolahan, who has just signed a new contract extension.
It has been an amazing turnaround in form for Hughton’s side, who looked set for a long battle against relegation when they lost 4-1 at Chelsea before the October international break which was a fourth defeat from their opening seven games.
Despite being now remarkably within striking distance of the top four, Hughton insists the hard work must continue if Norwich are to avoid being dragged back down into the relegation battle.
“For me, it is very easy, I know where we are as a football club and what other teams have, with their budgets,” said former Newcastle and Birmingham manager Hughton, who was appointed in the summer.
Norwich produced a strong start against a Wigan side hit by injuries to key men. Pilkington swept the hosts in front on 15 minutes when he blasted past Ali Al Habsi after a determined run from Hoolahan to the edge of the Wigan penalty area.
But for the efforts of the busy Latics keeper, Norwich would have been further ahead before half-time, with Robert Snodgrass seeing his point-blank header somehow clawed away.
For a spell, Norwich were on the back foot, but weathered the storm and regained their lead just after the hour when this time Pilkington turned provider to float over a cross from the left which Hoolahan, nicknamed Hot Lips by team-mates, nodded home.
Hughton has nothing but praise for the 30-year-old Republic of Ireland playmaker, whose new deal runs until 2015.
“The only way you can earn contracts is by performing, and performing well enough. Wes has certainly done that,” said Hughton.
“I am probably more pleased for him, because it was never a question of his future here, it has all been about getting a longer deal and we are delighted with that.”
James McCarthy is facing a spell on the sidelines after being left with an ankle problem following what Wigan manager Roberto Martinez branded a “nasty challenge” from Bradley Johnson.