Sunday, April 8, 2012
Grant Holt finally admitted Norwich City have secured Premier League safety after helping earn an excellent draw with Everton at Carrow Road.
The Canaries, whose second Easter holiday fixture takes them to Tottenham on Monday afternoon (3pm), came from behind twice to hold David Moyes’ in-form Toffees.
Jonny Howson capped a sublime midfield performance with his first goal for the club before half-time and Holt benefited from the composure of substitute Aaron Wilbraham late on, both cancelling out cool finishes from Nikica Jelavic in a cracking contest.
And with the draw earning the 40th point of a fruitful top-flight return, there is sure to be an air of mission accomplished as the City support head to north London – if not any easing off the pedal by Paul Lambert’s players.
“The aim was always to get safe so now we are there we want to finish as high as we can,” said City skipper Holt. “Obviously we have a few tough games coming up, but we’ll keep doing what we are doing and see where it takes us.
“This was a good performance, we’re happy with that. We moved the ball well, caused Everton a lot of problems. We’re disappointed with the goals but we probably should have won in the end.
“We gave ourselves a mountain to climb again, gave away goals, but it’s amazing these lads just keep going. What a bunch of players we have here.
“You could see from Jonny Howson, the will to win, and Ryan Bennett putting his body on the line. I’m very lucky to play with this group. We pressed them and there were a few times we caught them quite high up the pitch, which we were happy about.
“The lads did get tired and it has been a long year now, a lot of games. We’ll have to go again (at Tottenham) but if we’d just been a little more careful towards the end we could have nicked all three points today.”
Everton’s second goal certainly brought the wrath of Carrow Road on referee Andre Marriner, with City appealing for obstruction as Steven Pienaar shielded the ball on the ground before the official then got in the way of Wes Hoolahan as he tried to mop up the danger – all seconds before Pienaar broke through to tee up Jelavic for his fifth goal in eight games just after the hour.
“Surely you must be able to see the lad is lying on the ball with two legs, sitting on it,” said Holt. “If he wants our players to go and start kicking him on the floor, which they wouldn’t do, then that’s fair enough. But he said he didn’t see it and he apologised for getting in the way so...
“There’s still a long way to go from there and we are disappointed. We should have picked up Jelavic and shouldn’t have given him a free tap-in.”
Not that City’s grievances – or boos – rested on one incident.
“I got sent off for a second yellow the other week and I think Leighton Baines was a very lucky boy to still be on the pitch – no malice, but they were yellow cards,” added Holt, whose 15th goal of the campaign secured Norwich’s point. “It always makes it sweeter when you feel that injustice and you get a goal back and you are driving on again.”
Holt’s goal also re-ignited talk of a possible summer away with England at the European Championships – hopes that could even be boosted by a good showing on Monday in front of Spurs boss, and favourite to be the next England manager, Harry Redknapp.
Tottenham are under pressure not to let their pursuit of a Champions League spot for next season unravel, having seen out a goalless draw at Sunderland on Saturday.
“If we get near the ball on Monday we’ll be all right – that’s the difficult bit,” smiled Holt. “They are a very good side but a team that is getting caught. They will be disappointed by their draw, so they could be looking over their shoulder a little bit.
“It could be a good time to play them and it might be a little showcase to show Harry I’ve got a little bit – but I have to get the ball first and then I will try to score.
“England is the dream…but if the person who gets the job doesn’t pick me then I’m not going to get in. If it’s Stuart Pearce or whoever, it’s their choice. It’s only one man’s opinion and it’s like our manager – if he doesn’t want to play me then he won’t.
“This football club is the main priority, if I don’t do it here then I will never go anywhere. Obviously I want to play for England and if it goes on goals and recent performances, recent stats, then I’ll be in. If it doesn’t, I won’t.
“I’m not stupid. I have been an England fan for a long time and have seen a lot of players get call-ups who shouldn’t, and a lot who don’t play but should. That’s just the way football is.
“All I can say is if I get in there I’ll do my best; I will certainly give my all.”