Norwich City captain Russell Martin explains why he brought back the huddle and how three at the back could be the Canaries’ way forward.
PUBLISHED: 22:00 01 January 2017 | UPDATED: 22:00 01 January 2017
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When Norwich City reflect on their 2016, it won’t be pretty – but then, you won’t have needed hindsight for that.
Equally, a goalless draw at struggling Brentford was probably the most fitting way to send it off.
What City now need is genuine optimism for the new year – starting with in-form Derby’s Carrow Road visit come Monday afternoon (3pm).
“It’s been a tough one for a lot of reasons obviously, with relegation and then this run of form – also, let’s talk politics… No, let’s not!” joked captain Russell Martin.
“Listen, I said it to the lads in the huddle before the game, we had a chance on the TV to prove to a few people we’re still fighting and we still want to win, we’re still here and want to get back up the league. We’ve shown that in long periods here, but it is baby steps and nothing will get turned around quickly.”
Indeed, from talking about promotion goals come May, City’s torrid run of results means they are reduced to looking at far more basic targets over the coming weeks.
Martin said: “Of course long-term we want to get to where we want to be, but we need short-term goals at the minute when we’ve been on the run we have.
“At Brentford it was to be solid and get a result, and we did that. We deserved the win, didn’t get it and it’s disappointing. But now on Monday we have to go and build on it again, and that’s the short-term goal – to win on Monday.”
And yes, Martin did mention holding a huddle on the pitch just before kick-off – something that was a regular occurrence until this season.
“We’ve gone away from it,” admitted Martin. “I think we just felt we spoke a lot last year, different meetings and stuff, and we may have just wanted to get on with it. But I decided to bring the lads together because I felt like I wanted to say my piece. I’ve not played and I think it gives people the chance to say what they want just before the kick-off.
“I think it was important to get the message I wanted to say to them.
“It might make a difference, it might not, but I really wanted to do it and if I’m playing against Derby it will be the same.”
What may not be the same is City’s formation, including a back three.
“I think whenever we’ve gone to a back three it’s worked quite well,” added Martin. “We just needed a change, we needed to get two up top and that was the way to do it. It’s worked well, gave us a solid base and I think we moved the ball well.
“We probably bossed possession until we had a man sent off. So it’s another option for the manager. I don’t know what he’ll do on Monday but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the way we defended and worked together.
“We’ve not had long to work on it, but we played it a few times last season and we’ve done OK with it, and we still carry a threat going forward with the players we’ve got. It suits them quite well.
“So we’ve got the players to do it and we’ve done well at it here, so hopefully it gives us another chance to have a crack at it on Monday.
“All fans want to see is commitment, effort, desire – and it’s hard if you’re lacking confidence to transfer that on to the pitch. But we’ve got to do that. We did it at Brentford, we’ve got to do it again on Monday and slowly get the fans back on side.”