March 12 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Only time will tell whether Norwich City are starting to click. Whether those qualities that saw them unbeaten for a solitary spell last season are set to have a greater influence on this term. And whether all that money spent in the summer really has made an improvement to Chris Hughton’s squad.
With the Premier League’s halfway mark in clear sight, a genuine comparison becomes easier to make.
But even as far as short-term progress goes, Robert Snodgrass was a happy man after the full-time whistle at Sunderland on Saturday.
Some City fans will remain adamant the Canaries have to win these games – but they may well be coming at the argument from the wrong side this time.
It was Sunderland who spent the entire build-up to Saturday’s game proclaiming they had to win it – otherwise their survival mission under Gus Poyet looked doomed.
And their failure to beat Norwich seemed to make the Black Cats’ nightmare scenario a reality.
Meanwhile, the Canaries could start to look at a modest unbeaten run in the top flight and an improving feel around the club.
This is the first time all season City have gone successive games without defeat – and all considering they started November in the bottom three with just eight points.
“Any point away from home is always good,” said Snodgrass. “The togetherness in the squad showed and I think before, we maybe would have lost this game.
“Sunderland are down at the bottom fighting for their lives. I know it’s the first half of the season but still. And the way we played as well (was pleasing), blocking the goal and made some great chances.
“That inconsistency in results has definitely made things difficult. But the way we did it at West Brom, against Swansea and now here, that’s fine. If you can pick up a point away from home and then get your home form sorted out, then you’ll be in the top half of the table.
“That’s where we’re trying to get. The manager has been working hard, we’ve been working hard. We’ve got an honest bunch and when things aren’t going right, we’ll do the extra hours to try to put it right.”
So it’s been stop-start for City – but hopefully that is starting to change. And Snodgrass will hope the sentiment extends to his own season. The Scot’s 10th Premier League appearance of term followed a five-week lay-off for a knee injury, in a campaign where he admitted it has been tough to get into his stride.
“It’s been very difficult,” he said. “You have a few OK performances and a goal, and you want to kick on. And then you get injured.
“I’ve worked hard with the physio team because I want to get as fit as I possibly can. I want to put those niggling little injuries behind me.
“It’s been very stop-start this season so hopefully I can get a run of games now and stay in the side, and get a few more goals and assists.
“You lose your fitness within two weeks, so you need to work hard. I’ve been doing treble sessions to try and get back fit, to try to get up to the speed of these players. The fitness coach has been working very hard with me to get me back into the swing of things and I’m just delighted to be back. The physio grabbed me after and said not many come back and play 90 minutes, so that shows hard work pays off.”
In the end it was the Canaries who had the better chances, and while they couldn’t quite find the finish to make it successive away wins, they made sure they left the Stadium of Light with successive clean sheets on the road and a third game without defeat.
“Actions speak louder than words, and I think we’ve proved with our three recent results we’ve got that doggedness back and that we can grind out points – so we’re delighted,” added Snodgrass.
In fact, Snodgrass felt things should have been even better after a first-half tussle with Phil Bardsley in the penalty area.
“I’ll be honest, I thought it was a definite penalty,” added the Scot. “I don’t know what you guys thought, but I had the ball so I had no reason to go down. He was going backwards and hadn’t seen me come in, so I definitely thought it was a penalty.”