Russell Martin - Norwich City are still learning
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Norwich City defender Russell Martin admits the Canaries’ successful tilt at the Premier League has proved a massive learning curve for Paul Lambert’s squad.
Liverpool’s visit to Carrow Road this weekend presents another test against one of the top flight’s aristocracy, but City go into their penultimate home fixture needing just a point to guarantee survival.
Martin is among a clutch of Norwich players who have made the transition from League One, and the Scotland international concedes the step up from the third tier of English football has been immense.
“It certainly is. It’s a lot quicker than it looks on television, that’s for sure,” he said. “When you come up against the top, top players you realise why they’ve been there for so long – the Manchester United players, some of the players at (Manchester) City, they’ve been there and done everything and won everything.
“You can see why. It’s the mentality. If they make a mistake, they couldn’t care less, they go and try to do the same thing again.
“You saw it when United came down here at Carrow Road. We looked really good at 1-1 and then all of a sudden they realised they had to go and win the game and in the last 10 minutes, they really turned it on.
“That’s the difference, the same as when Spurs came down here and played us at home, but on our day, like we showed at White Hart Lane, we can match anyone with work rate and effort.
“We’ve got some quality in the team as well. It’s a massive step up. From League One to the Championship is big, but this is definitely bigger.”
Lambert’s men have more than held their own against all bar Roberto Mancini’s deadly strikeforce, who inflicted two heavy Premier League defeats on the Canaries.
“As a front four or five, yes, they are the best we have faced,” said Martin. “(Sergio) Aguero and (Carlos) Tevez, their movement is just fantastic. They make three or four runs before they get the ball and it’s not like they’re doing it slowly either. They’re really sharp.
“They’re top players and that’s why they’re worth hundreds of millions of pounds combined. As a defence I think we’ll all agree they’re the best front four we’ve played.
“But that is why you walk away and you put it to bed because you’re playing against some of the best strikers in the world, players who have done it not just in the Premier League but in La Liga and on the international stage. You have to put it in perspective, where we’ve come from and where they’ve come from.”
Martin has remained an integral part of Lambert’s Premier League plans after underlining his versatility earlier this season with an emergency stint in central defence.
“It’s been a great season. I’ve played a lot of games and that’s all you can hope for,” he said.
“As a group of players, not just me individually, we’ve proved we can play at this level and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.
“It’s been brilliant, it’s been a challenge for sure, it’s definitely been a step up, but I just want to play as many games as possible and be part of it next season. That’s everybody’s aim.”