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Sunday, November 11, 2012
It was one of John Ruddy’s quieter days in goal for Norwich City – and the England stopper would be happy to have it that way on a regular basis.
Clean sheet number four of the campaign arrived at the Madejski Stadium in a game short on incident – something more welcome for the visitors than their winless hosts.
It ended City’s Premier League record run of 38 away games without a shut-out – and heaped more misery on a Reading side high on effort but short on quality.
“I’ll take that every week,” smiled Ruddy, who joins up with Roy Hodgson’s England squad this week for their friendly in Sweden.
“It’s one of those – you get games where you’re super busy and games like this where you’re not. The biggest positive we’ve got from this is it’s a clean sheet away from home, the first since 2004 in the Premier League I’ve been told, so that’s a massive positive.
“We’ve got four this season already and we said in the dressing room if we keep clean sheets then we will win a lot more games than we draw.”
Norwich’s clean sheet tally already tops last season’s, which will also boost the coffers at Help for Heroes – where Ruddy donates each clean sheet bonus, this time on the most poignant of weekends.
“We’ve beaten the total from last season already so onwards and upwards with that and hopefully we can really give them something to smile about at the end of the season,” said Ruddy, whose family has several connections to the armed forces.
“It’s always nice on remembrance weekend to think of the people who have put themselves on the line and gave their lives to make sure we live the lives we do today. It’s fantastic the two minutes’ silence was observed impeccably.”
Nigel Worthington’s City side was the last to earn a top-flight clean sheet on the road, at West Bromwich Albion in October 2004. Chris Hughton’s men finally shook off that monkey on a day when both sides struggled to create much in front of goal.
“It wasn’t a game for the spectators I would say, but nonetheless a point away from a home and a clean sheet are the biggest positives we can take,” added Ruddy.
“I think the win was there for both teams. We created, maybe not clear cut chances, but we certainly a couple of half chance and Reading did as well. But some games it’s not meant to be.
“I thought there was a lot of good play in the middle of the park and unfortunately neither side could make it count in the final third.”
No doubt City are tough to play and score against at the moment, but while that has seen City’s own goal tally reduce, Ruddy is far from worried.
“We feel like we’re a lot more solid,” said the City keeper. “Obviously it took a few games. We had the tough time at Fulham, Liverpool and Chelsea, where we got caught on the hop, but generally we do look more solid and that’s down to the manager.
“He’s come in and made the decision he wants to do that, and for me that is absolutely fine because it means I’m not working as much.
“If you can build from the back and keep clean sheets, we’ll certainly win more game than not because we know we can score goals.
“The aim is to stay in the Premier League and as long as you pick up points you’ve got the best chance to do that.”
But at the same time sacrificing some of last season’s potency in front of goal?
“Maybe, and that’s maybe reflected in the lack of goals. That’s not a criticism of the attacking players. We’ve got a great array of attacking talent.
“But if you’re going to be solid then usually it’s the back four with Bradley (Johnson) and Alex (Tettey) doing the job in front of them. So you almost sacrifice at least five of the players because if one full-back goes, the other has got to stay around. But that’s still five players that can join in the attacks, create chances and score goals.
“We’ve got talent in abundance going forward so we’re not worried about that. We’re just concentrating on putting the performances in.”