Russell Martin reacts as bond between Norwich City fans and players snaps with West Bromwich Albion defeat
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Arguably, now is not the time to start mentioning former Norwich City managers – but given the almost entire breakdown of relations at Carrow Road on Saturday, it’s hard not to.
The Canaries’ rise through three-quarters of English football’s tiers was built on the bond between players and fans. But with Russell Martin and John Ruddy both having to deal with abuse directed at them from supporters at close quarters – plus the added acrimony of flying clap-banners, the most vocal calls yet for manager Chris Hughton to be sacked and repeated booing – that bond snapped.
With City’s Premier League status looking more in danger than at any time since their top-flight return, the big question is how long it will take to repair; seven days appears an optimistic answer.
“I can understand the frustrations of where we are in the league, but this time more than ever we need everyone behind us,” said Martin.
“We got booed off at half-time – everyone is entitled to their opinion. We got booed off at the end. Someone said a few things to me, which I am not happy about and I will be speaking to someone about that.
“This is a time to stick together more than ever, and I spoke this week about how good the fans are here – and they are. But this was disappointing. We are as disappointed as anyone in this stadium. It means as much to myself, to John (Ruddy), people who have been here a long time and played a lot of games for this club and we need them more than ever.
“They need to get behind us, it’s as simple as that, regardless of how you about the management, the players, whatever. As a football club, we need to get to get behind the team.”
As for the action on the pitch, there was little surprise. It was the same frailties, shortcomings and issues City have had to deal with all season – although usually only away from Carrow Road.
“When we’ve have to stand up and be counted this season, we’ve done it at home – we haven’t done it today,” Martin added. “You can try too hard to win sometimes, and then we give them a goal and it makes it a lot harder. I always fancy us if we keep a clean sheet going into half-time, I fancy us to win games. But we’ve never bounced back well enough this season from conceding a goal. So it’s up to us to sort that out.
“The lads are hurting. I’m fed up with coming out and saying that, but they are. Credit to West Brom. They had a game plan and stuck to it, but we need to be better than that to break teams down if they are going to come here and sit off us when they’re defending.
“We have been great when not conceding a goal, keeping a clean sheet and then driving on, but when we go behind like that, we need to be so much better and find a way to work around it.
“It is frustrating. There is no lack of desire or effort. People can talk about that, but no chance – you can’t question it. The lads are doing everything they can. They are shattered in there. We just lacked the quality. It’s as simple as that.
“If you question the desire and commitment, you are wrong and I’ll have a conversation with anyone about it because the lads are devastated in there. We have to pick ourselves up. We haven’t shown enough quality in the final third a lot this season. This was the same story. We need to work that one out quickly.”