Monday, January 20, 2014
There was only one topic of Norwich City conversation in the build-up to Saturday’s game – the position of the manager. And only one satisfactory objective for Saturday’s game – to win it. But to settle for that as the sole achievement in beating Hull wouldn’t do things justice.
There were two characteristics Chris Hughton demanded from his players before kick-off on Saturday: grit and determination. The fact both were there for all to see was one thing but seeing belief sit alongside those all the way through to the 87th and crucial minute underlined a point often made in support of the occasionally stricken Canaries boss – this group of players wants to succeed with Hughton at the helm.
Yet regardless of the pre-match managerial storm, Carrow Road did seem to settle on one thing at the weekend – the knowledge Norwich City desperately needed a win to ensure Premier League safety didn’t start to get any more desperate than it needed to.
That sounds a brash statement – but one look at the table with two points removed from City’s tally might focus the mind. Either way, City will only achieve their goals this season if they stick together. Things have become fraught at times in recent weeks – but this was definitely a collective effort
“I think you’ve seen the players coming out of the dressing room and how happy they are, how much it meant to us, and I think you saw on the pitch how much it meant to us after the goal too,” said Ryan Bennett.
“We’ve got a very tight squad here with a lot of players that get on. Every player knows that we will give 100pc for each other and I think that’s something we’ve proved today, which is a big thing.”
The collective celebration – one that seemed to take on more of a kick-off huddle – wasn’t just for show either.
“We knew how big the game was and the lads are really close here,” added Bennett. “We were getting some stick from the fans, even at half-time there were a lot of grumbles, and the celebration was just the solidarity we’ve got among ourselves.
“We wanted to get together then, just off the cuff when we scored, and we just said how important that goal was and how much we wanted to stick together and keep concentrated. That’s something we carried into the dressing room afterwards, and we want to continue to do that.”
When people talk of a new group of players gelling, Bennett’s sentiments should be the watershed. Picking up more results like Saturday would help too. It’s unlikely Carrow Road could take many more pre-match build-ups like the last one.
“It makes it easier to talk about the pressure because we’ve won,” added Bennett. “We’re not ignorant to the fact that there’s pressure, but we don’t think about it.
“We had a few chances and restricted them to hardly anything. So it was on our mind we’ve found it difficult to score this year and we just needed one more chance. And when we got it, we took it. And that’s a big three points for us.”