‘It’s tough down at Norwich’ - Friend hoping defensive stability will help Blues thrive at Carrow Road
- Credit: PA
Birmingham City defender George Friend is hopeful the Blues can maintain the high standard they set prior to the international break as they prepare to face Norwich City tonight.
The Blues have started life under Aitor Karanka well - although did suffer a set-back in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
Birmingham travel to Norfolk having lost just one of their opening five fixtures - with Friend playing a pivotal part in a defence that is yet to concede more than one goal in a game.
“We set quite high standards in those first block of games before the international break. And when you set the bar at that level, you have got to try and maintain it.
“The first loss was always going to be hard to take. But we’re really thankful in the Championship you have got a quick turnaround to make amends and it’s tough down at Norwich but we will back ourselves to have a good reaction.
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“You set the bar high and that’s why it was disappointing not to have matched that on Saturday as we have played better previously and been more aggressive on the front foot.
“By aggressive I mean off the ball, by the way we press. Off the ball is massive for us. It’s not just about the front four, the back players, anyone - it’s the whole team. We need to be way more imposing, a bit of aggression off the ball with our press.”
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Karanka has developed a reputation for setting up sides well defensively - with his pragmatism leading Middlesbrough to promotion to the Premier League in 2016.
A spell with Nottingham Forest followed - and now Jose Mourinho’s former assistant boss is back in the hotseat at St Andrews. With his defensive set-up, Friend believes the Blues can go into games with confidence.
“In all honesty we never feel like we’re that open even when we are on the back foot,” Friend told the Blues official website. “We always look pretty resolute and pretty solid and that’s what the manager is big on.
“It goes from all of us working together. We do have that cohesion off the ball and then it’s about imposing yourself.
“Look, everyone is learning and everyone is improving. We have set a benchmark and want to keep that high standard.”