Stoke assistant boss Mark Bowen wants to turn up the heat on old club Norwich City
08:35 07 March 2014
Stoke assistant boss and former Norwich City stalwart Mark Bowen insists the Potters are still wary of being sucked back into a Premier League relegation battle ahead of this weekend’s trip to Carrow Road.
Bowen was part of a Canaries’ squad who finished third in the very first Premier League season and played a key role in the memorable Uefa Cup run that followed, but the Welshman has no divided loyalties as Stoke aim to build on last week’s impressive 1-0 Premier League win over Arsenal. Mark Hughes’ men can move into the top half of the table on Saturday but Bowen is adamant the priority remains pulling clear of the scrap towards the bottom.
“We are getting to the nitty, gritty part of the season now. It needs a real high level of concentration and clinical intent. At this stage of the season it is nice to look in front of you but it would be remiss not to be looking over your shoulder,” said Bowen. “We need a couple more results just to allow us to approach the final fixtures looking to see how high we can go. It would be silly to think we are out of it. We are not, by any stretch of the imagination and we have to keep putting performances together. Look at West Ham. It is amazing where you can go in this league with back-to-back wins.
“You can get by perhaps by nicking points but all you really do is go nowhere in the table. To put wins on the board you can shoot up the table and everything looks rosy in the garden.”
Stoke face the Canaries without influential midfielder Charlie Adam, who serves the first of a three-match ban for violent conduct after an incident involving Arsenal’s Oliver Giroud. Bowen yesterday adopted a diplomatic stance over the FA’s verdict and backed Steven N’Zonzi to step into the breach after he was recalled for the 1-0 home win over the Gunners.
“The less said about Charlie’s situation the better. We are all disappointed with that outcome,” Bowen told Stoke’s official site. “There is no doubt in my mind that Steve is a top player, but if I am being slightly critical of him then maybe he will sometimes choose the easy pass when maybe other things are on for him. It has been a difficult time for him with losing his place in the side a few weeks ago. Because of the results and performances of the team in his absence it was difficult to get him back into the side to be perfectly honest, so he has had to be patient and bide his time.”