Russell Martin delivers some brutal home truths after Norwich City’s Premier League relegation
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Russell Martin needs no lectures on the cost of Premier League relegation for Norwich City.
"We lost a little bit of our identity. That is no fault or a slight on the previous manager, that is a collective thing. For two years no-one liked playing against Norwich City because they knew they were in for a game. This year it has been a little bit too easy to play against us."
The Canaries’ club captain admitted yesterday he is still coming to terms with the jolt from being part of a squad facing an uncertain future. Martin knows that sense of loss will be felt far beyond the tight confines of Norwich’s dressing room.
“If it doesn’t hurt you are in the wrong job and at the wrong football club,” he said. “The mood around the camp in the last few days has not been good. As club captain it is my role to front up and speak on behalf of the players, but the reality is we have just got relegated from the best league in the world. I feel angry, dejected and disappointed for the club, the fans and in ourselves to be honest as players.
“The fact is people might lose their jobs in other roles at the club and I feel annoyed about that. That is the bottom line. It doesn’t just affect us. People might say we don’t care because we still get paid the same whatever happens. No, that is wrong. We get hit massively as well. You can’t go down and pay players the same wages. That was probably one of the problems the last time the club went down. This time it will be different. You can either wallow in self-pity or you say this has happened, you learn and grow from it and you come back stronger next season.”
Martin was convinced Norwich could pull themselves out of a tailspin that triggered the exit of Chris Hughton and Neil Adams’ internal promotion over the run-in.
“We haven’t been good enough for long enough periods and it is not just about these last four games. We played 37 and we are where we are. The table doesn’t lie. We are gone,” he said. “I came out during the season and said we would be safe and I genuinely believed that. We haven’t done it. It has kicked us up the backside and it hurts and the players have to take a huge amount of responsibility.
“I have two years left on my contract and all my concentration is on getting us back to the Premier League. We had unbelievable success for four years but you learn a lot about yourself and this job in the tougher times.
“People outside the club may have felt it was on the cards for a long time but it was probably only the West Brom and Fulham games when you knew then it would be massively tough. I look at (Aston) Villa at home and we should have won that. Both games against Cardiff as well. We haven’t scored enough goals and we have been terrible away.”
Martin believes the rot cuts much deeper than a downward trend in form and results. The Scottish international warns the Canaries have lost sight of the values that propelled them from the depths of League One.
“In my opinion standards have slipped a bit and we need to pick it up again. Everything has to be better for next year,” he said. “We lost a little bit of our identity. That is no fault or a slight on the previous manager, that is a collective thing. For two years no-one liked playing against Norwich City because they knew they were in for a game. This year it has been a little bit too easy to play against us.
“We don’t have any bad lads in there or any egos but I just feel we have lacked a clear identity. As much as people have criticised Stoke for a long time and their style of football they have stayed in the Premier League. Swansea have done it the opposite way, so there is no right or wrong. We need to decide which way we are going to moving forward.”
Martin admits there needs to be a major overhaul to address the shortcomings.
“Maybe complacency set in for some. I have my own opinions but I am not going to come out and say them, but some of the results away from home you can’t accept it,” he said. “Maybe there was too much acceptance and we were too nice with each other at times. That needs to change next year.
“When you evolve you try and improve but maybe we tried to do that a bit quickly this season. With the players we signed there is no way we should be in this situation.”