Tough talking from Norwich City’s Jonny Howson ahead of Stoke’s Premier League visit
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Jonny Howson is acutely aware Norwich City’s squad have a duty of care to do everything they can to keep the Canaries in the Premier League.
"We know what is at stake and the pressure comes from within. If you care about something, it doesn’t have to be football but whatever you do in life, then if you care you want to do well and look after it. The lads are all passionate, they all want to do well and no-one needs to tell us."
Howson and the rest of Chris Hughton’s players have had to endure fresh accusations they lack the essential ingredients to survive after being mauled at Aston Villa. The 25-year-old’s return following a long term back complaint is a major boost for the defining phase of the season. Howson is a technically-gifted attacking midfielder with a goal badly missed during his absence. The straight-talking Yorkshireman is also made of the right stuff, as he demonstrated in addressing the perennial debate on Chris Hughton’s own future, growing questions regarding the lack of leaders inside the Norwich dressing room and City’s capacity to ultimately resist.
Howson watched the carnage unfold at Villa Park from the relative safety of the visitors’ dug-out but that made it no easier to digest.
“When you look back at it, and I have been in situations like that in the past, things can happen so quickly. You are in as much shock as the fans. You can have a crazy, mad spell,” he said. “From a personal point of view I don’t think it will be the last time it happens in my career and I also know the boot will be on the other foot. It is about how you react. It can happen to anyone if you switch off and a team gets on you. At this level you will be punished for mistakes.
“The manager is right to demand a reaction and to be fair the majority of the time there has been a positive reaction. We can talk as much as we want about that game but its gone and all we can affect is Stoke. We know what is at stake and the pressure comes from within. If you care about something, it doesn’t have to be football but whatever you do in life, then if you care you want to do well and look after it. The lads are all passionate, they all want to do well and no-one needs to tell us. We all want the same thing and that brings its own pressure.”
Howson insists what happened in the first half at Villa Park does not highlight a lack of leadership.
“I think that is a little bit unfair. If you look at the group we have now we have some experience with players like Russell Martin, Seb (Bassong), Joseph (Yobo) and they are just three at the back,” he said. “You add Big John (Ruddy) in goal and these are lads who have played at different levels of football and experienced different situations so for me that is a little unfair to mention that. We have 10 games to play and I think we’ll be fine. It is just a case of picking up points when we deserve to. The only thing missing is that bit of consistency. This is the tightest it has been for a number of seasons and West Ham is the classic example because over Christmas they were beaten heavily a couple of times and in the bottom three and then they win three on the bounce and they look safe in mid-table.”
Howson acknowledges, however, every set-back at this stage merely heightens the level of scrutiny on Hughton.
“It seems to have been there all season and from the players’ point-of-view I don’t see how because apart from maybe at the start for a period we have not been in the bottom three,” said Howson. “For some reason it keeps getting mentioned. I don’t know what they expect. For me he has done a great job. I don’t know what goes on behind-closed-doors regarding the manager but we are all behind him. You can see that, especially the effort we put in against Tottenham. That showed everyone was together. We can only effect what we do, but we know what goes on inside the football club.”