Steven Whittaker: Arsenal win kicked Norwich City into life – Manchester United win ensures people take notice
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Victory over Arsenal got Norwich City’s season up and running – and Steven Whittaker believes repeating the trick against Manchester United ensured the rest of the Premier League will take notice.
The Canaries have a point more than their total after 12 games last season, albeit sitting a few places lower in the table, but with two famous Carrow Road scalps after bagging win number one of the campaign against the Gunners last month.
Perhaps more pleasing will be the five-point buffer to the current relegation zone headed by Aston Villa, allowing City fans a smile to add to the buzz of beating one of world football’s biggest names at the weekend with their 1-0 win over United.
“The Arsenal game kick-started our season for us and we’ve never looked back,” admitted Whittaker.
“We’ve been on a great run since then and when we got that win it gave us that boost we maybe needed. We’ve taken that forward and taken that confidence into the other games.
“You need to believe. There’s no point in taking part unless you believe, so we believed we could get a result against United and, again, the confidence of the team was there and hopefully that will continue.
“Teams may have a look at the fixtures we’ve won and maybe get a little bit worried (about playing City), but we can’t get carried away with that. We’ve still got a tough task ahead and we’ll look forward to it.”
The next tough test is a tricky trip to high flying Everton on Saturday, before newly promoted Southampton await at St Mary’s four days later.
That promises a lot of action for Whittaker, who is finding his flow after pre-season injury delayed his Premier League debut following a summer switch from Rangers.
The man who is yet to experience conceding a top-flight goal also played the full 90 minutes for Scotland in Luxembourg last week – an amount of action City boss Chris Hughton admitted was disappointing given his injury-hit start to the season.
“It’s my fourth game now I think, so I’m getting that little run in the team and the results have been good, so it’s happy times now and hopefully we can keep it going,” said Whittaker.
“I played the friendly in midweek, another 90 minutes, and obviously I’m always chuffed to get away with my country – I just prepared from then to the game with United as best I could.
“I felt OK (on Saturday), and I’ve got another week until the next game now so I’ve got plenty of time to recover.
“I think I can still get a little bit fitter but I’m feeling OK with my game and hopefully I’ll keep improving. I’m loving every minute to be honest. It’s an all new experience for me and I’m loving playing against the quality of the players I’m coming up against and enjoying playing with the guys as well.
“I wanted to come into the team and play well and hopefully get results, and it’s going according to plan at the minute. We’re keeping clean sheets and we’re managing to score a few goals at the same time. I think that helps and it’s something we can hopefully embed in the squad – we’ve had a few clean sheets in this little run and hopefully we can keep the shut-outs coming.”
One thing that has impressed Whittaker since his Carrow Road arrival is the Canaries’ team spirit – a staple of their recent success, and something regularly in evidence given their efforts against Sir Alex Ferguson’s men at the weekend.
“The midfield – especially (Robert) Snodgrass and Pilkington – Snoddy helps me out tremendously with doubling up and making it hard for the opposition to get balls into the box,” said Whittaker.
“He tries to not leave me one-on-one too many times, and that makes my job easier that he’s working hard in front of me. And I’ll try to help him going forward as well. So we are working as a unit and it’s working out just now.
“There has always been a spirit here. The guys are all in it together. We are on a good run and we work our socks off, and we have to continue to do that.
“We cant get carried away with ourselves and we know that. If we keep working hard and putting the performances in like we did on Saturday, we will do well.”