THE BIG INTERVIEW: ‘You know the teams behind are watching you’ – Aarons’ warning to City team-mates
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Complacency is the enemy for Max Aarons and Norwich City as the pressure of the Championship promotion race builds.
The 19-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable breakthrough season for the Canaries, becoming the undisputed right-back of choice for Daniel Farke’s league leaders.
Ahead of tomorrow night’s Carrow Road clash with Hull – who still have slim hopes of a play-off chase despite a 3-0 loss at Nottingham Forest on Saturday – City sit four points clear of third-placed Sheffield United.
“The boss has been trying to not let our standards drop and not let us get complacent, which obviously could happen if you’re top of the league and stuff, you could take your foot off the gas a little bit,” Aarons said.
“But I think with the group we’ve got here and the team we’ve got, we just want to kick on and keep improving.”
Second-placed Leeds travel to battling Reading tonight, sitting two points behind Norwich, and Sheffield United host resurgent Brentford as they look to pile the pressure on Farke’s squad.
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“One little mess up and they could be ahead of you,” the youngster continued. “So you’ve really got to keep your foot on the gas, because you know the teams behind you are watching you, your results, they’re applying the pressure.
“So it’s just down to us to remain calm and hopefully keep getting the results and playing well.”
Aarons only emerged as a first-team contender during pre-season and made his debut aged 18 in August when he played all of a 3-1 win over Stevenage in the League Cup first round. Another start followed in the second round, getting on the scoresheet against Premier League side Cardiff during a 3-1 away success – earning his big chance.
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The former Luton Town trainee, originally from Milton Keynes, was handed his first league start amid the heat of derby day and played all of City’s 1-1 draw with Ipswich at Portman Road.
His maturity has since kept the experience of Ivo Pinto and the talent of Borussia Dortmund loanee Felix Passlack on the fringes, starting 31 successive Championship games, finishing all but one – and tasting defeat on just three occasions.
It has also earned four England U19 caps, but the academy product has his feet firmly on the ground.
“I’d say my main thing that I’m trying to do is to just not get complacent and be 100 percent ready for every game,” he added.
“Be focused on the next game, not take my foot off the gas and hopefully not have any dips in form and let mistakes creep in and stuff like that – which obviously as a young player is what you have to be careful of. That’s the main area, where I’m just trying to be 100 percent switched on and mentally focused.”
Aarons has helped the Canaries win four on the spin but he admits Friday’s 1-0 home victory over Swansea was a tough encounter, which was settled by a superb strike from Emi Buendia.
“I’d say that was one of the hardest fist halves I’ve had playing against another team, it felt really tough in the first half,” he reflected.
“But we got to grips with it and it was a different test to what we faced against Millwall and Preston and teams like that. So to come through it with a win was really good and the all the boys were really happy with that one.”
Tomorrow’s visitors Hull pose enough tricky challenge, winning 2-0 at Leeds in December as part of a run of five successive defeats, but losing four of their subsequent eight matches, all of them away from home.
“It’s hard sometimes to get a gauge of where they are at the moment, they’re dipping in form and then going up in form,” Aarons said of the Tigers.
“So it’s hard, you don’t know how they’re going to come on Wednesday night but we can just focus on our game and carry on playing as well as we have – and hopefully it won’t be a problem.”
The youngster is looking forward to once again playing in front of the bright colours and vibrant atmosphere which has made Carrow Road a happy place to be again this season though.
“The positive atmosphere that’s been around the ground just gives you a massive boost, gives you that extra 10 percent to get over the line,” he added.
“There’s been results, like against Millwall and Bolton at home, which genuinely you could say the fans pushed us through it, whicch has helped a lot.
“All the support, social media and things like that, the Millwall game was crazy away, just looking at that wall of yellow, just with so many fans there, it almost felt like a home game, which is odd, but it’s great to have them there cheering your on.”