Commitment was just phenomenal
DAVID CUFFLEY City boss Peter Grant saluted the dogged determination of his team as they chalked up their first clean sheet of 2007 in the 1-0 home win over Championship leaders Birmingham.
City boss Peter Grant saluted the dogged determination of his team as they chalked up their first clean sheet of 2007 in the 1-0 home win over Championship leaders Birmingham.
It was the first time in 15 matches in all competitions, stretching back to the 1-0 victory over Queen's Park Rangers on December 30, that the Canaries had not conceded a goal.
Said Grant: “I'm absolutely delighted for many reasons because I think I was very critical at the Derby game last week, when I thought we played ever so well. I think tonight we learned a lesson, we blocked shots late in the game, there was great determination not to concede a goal and I think genuinely we deserved to win the game more comfortably.
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“The minimum we ask at this club is commitment, because on Saturday I didn't think we got that in the first period. They got their just rewards tonight though intelligent play. They defended their own box well, they attacked well and we should have scored more.”
Matchwinner Darren Huckerby earned his own tribute from his manager.
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“I'm very, very pleased that a team like Birmingham's come here, we've got a clean sheet, there was great willingess and desire from the midfield boys and defenders not to concede, and Darren's always capable of producing moments of magic,” said Grant.
“I've said that with the likes of Darren, young Chrissy Martin and Robert Earnshaw, if the rest of the team's organised and we do our jobs properly, we have matchwinners - more than most.
“Darren's capable of producing anything on his day. I've said that from day one. Sometimes he can be frustrating for me as a manager, but he was probably the only player on the pitch who was capable of producing something like that tonight and I was very, very pleased with him.
“He's led by example in this period. I think he's been terrific. I've played him in different positions because of injury or whatever and I think each time wherever I've played him he's had an effect on the game.
“He's a special talent. He's a bit of a maverick, you would say. He's capable of frustrating the life out of me. He has done many times, but I'll always give him the freedom of Norwich because he knows the only thing I ask him is to be in an area of the pitch where he can affect the game when we win the ball back. I don't ask him to defend, never have done since I came here.”
There was praise for the whole side, for once, from their manager.
He said: “I've got to give great credit to them all because there was a desire and determination not to concede a goal late in that period of the game and that's what wins you games. They're capable of challenging anybody in this league.
“Dickson Etuhu has been phenomenal in the last two games. Safri inside him knows how to play in a two now, he gets up against oppsition. He's won more tackles probably in the last two, three, four months than he's done in his whole career. And he knows that's what it takes to play in my team.
“Gary Doherty and Jason Shackell were phenomenal. The back four as a whole were excellent and Tony Warner gets his first clean sheet, but we know we've got a long way to go.”