Sunday, May 4, 2014
In truth, there was little more Norwich City could do. Winning at Chelsea, supposedly chasing the title, was a tall order – but when you have the worst away record in the league and you’ve struggled to buy a goal for most of the season, the momentum to back a change in fortunes simply wasn’t there.
In the end, it probably also put off manager Neil Adams pushing too much for a late winner – with the hope of putting off relegation for a few days more appealing than going for broke and the whole story coming to an end in west London. Again.
As a result, the Canaries did their part with a gutsy performance. And now, they wait – admittedly, for something that feels inevitable. But at least they get to wait.
“Possibly it feels like a draw isn’t enough,” said Jonny Howson. “The ball is back in Sunderland’s court now. Hopefully we get a little bit of luck but, even before this game started I think it was about coming here, putting in a good performance, giving everything you’ve got and when you do that, irrespective of what happens for the rest of the season, you can hold your head high.
“It’s been one of our biggest downfalls this season, our away form. It’s just two wins away all season and you’re going to go nowhere with that kind of form. We’re pleased with this performance – but it can be frustrating; why couldn’t we have done this more often?”
Now there’s a question. One that may ring in a few people’s ears over the summer, however the next week pans out. Whether the now imminent relegation threat gave City a cause to fight for at Stamford Bridge wasn’t clear. And while Sunderland’s win at Old Trafford 24 hours earlier made life almost impossible for Norwich, it clearly didn’t hamper their concentration on looking after themselves – as much as they could manage.
“We were aware of the situation, as everyone was before,” he added. “But the problem was we needed performances like that more often away from home. That’s gone now and we could only affect this one. We’ve done that, to a certain extent.
“Sunderland have had some terrific results over the past few weeks. They came here (to Chelsea) and got a win, got a draw at Manchester City and then go to Old Trafford and get a win. But from our point of view, yes the win on Saturday strengthened their position but it didn’t change too much what we had to do. We had to come here and get something, irrespective of what they did.
“When you start worrying about other teams, that’s maybe when you are in a bad place – as we are now. But our focus after Saturday’s result didn’t change.”
There was at least some focus on giving the travelling Norwich fans something to get behind – and that was a goal City did achieve, judging by the reception they were given at the final whistle.
“It’s something that was spoken about before the game,” added Howson. “We had a difficult task here but that was one thing mentioned – if we put everything we’ve got into the game, the fans will stick with us. And they did that.
“You can see the reaction at the end. They all seemed to have stayed. They clapped us. And when you do get knockbacks and things don’t work out the way you want them to, as long as you know you’ve given everything, people will stick with you and back you.
“And I would like to think they did that today.”