Iwan Roberts: I’d try all sorts to overcome effects of a midweek Norwich City game

PUBLISHED: 11:32 26 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:24 26 January 2018

City skipper Ivo Pinto tries to rally the team during the game against Sheffield United.  
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

City skipper Ivo Pinto tries to rally the team during the game against Sheffield United. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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I was asked the question by a friend of mine ‘did I think the lads would be physically okay to face Sheffield United just two days after their heroic efforts at Stamford Bridge?’

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdSheffield United manager Chris Wilder. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

My answer was that they would have done hardly anything last Thursday or Friday in training and would be fully rested up come kick-off time and raring to go.

It was exactly what he wanted to hear. However, sadly I didn’t believe a word of what I’d said.

Yes, the lads would have had a couple of easy days after the Chelsea game, but having given their all for 120 minutes on the Wednesday night, Sheffield United simply came 24 hours too early. The thing is, it’s not just the physical aspect of the game the lads had to get out of their system, but the mental one too, having suffered such a cruel blow losing in the manner they did against Chelsea. They must have been lower than a snake’s belly after the game and it takes one hell of a job by a manager to get their heads up and try to think positively again.

I remember some Saturday mornings when we were playing at home I’d done my early morning routine of taking Molly, our black Labrador, for her walk at precisely 9am and would be feeling shattered and heavy legged when I’d got back to the house and thinking to myself, “how the heck am I going to play this afternoon if I feel like this now”? Don’t get me wrong, my legs weren’t tired after taking the dog for a walk, but from a midweek game which hadn’t even gone into extra time.

Nelson Oliveira cuts a dejected figure as Norwich City slip behind early to Sheffield United. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesNelson Oliveira cuts a dejected figure as Norwich City slip behind early to Sheffield United. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

I’d try all sorts to sort myself out; I’d have a nice hot bath at home to see if I could get the stiffness and tiredness out of my legs and then at about 2pm when I arrived at Carrow Road I’d have an ice cold shower to try and liven me up a bit and get me ready for the game ahead. I would have numerous cups of coffee, which did me no favours at all as coffee dehydrates you and it kept me awake until all hours!

As I say, I would try anything to get myself ready and looking back, having a red hot bath and far too many cups of coffee before a game wasn’t the best preparation I could have done. These days that would be very much frowned upon.

I bet it was one of easiest team talks that Chris Wilder’s had to give to his players before the game last weekend. I can hear him saying to his players before he sent them out, “we owe this lot one after what happened at our place, oh, and by thy way, they will be knackered after going into extra time against Chelsea on Wednesday night so go out there, start the game quickly and full of energy and you will come away from here with three points”, and that’s exactly what they did.

Talking of owing a team one, Norwich definitely owe Brentford after they beat Norwich 2-1 at Carrow Road just before Christmas, but it won’t be easy as Dean Smith’s side are in fine form, having won five of their last six Championship games while not conceding in three of their last four league games so they are one of form teams in the Championship at this moment.

However, there can be no excuses tomorrow. The players have had a free week with what I’m sure would have been some very light training sessions up at Colney, so hopefully they will be ready and rearing to go and put on a similar show as they did on their last visit to London not too long ago.

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