Grant: 'I'm shattered'
JONATHAN REDHEAD Norwich City boss Peter Grant admitted the 1-0 victory over Sunderland had probably taken as much out of him as it had the 13 men who played in the hard-fought victory.
Norwich City boss Peter Grant admitted the 1-0 victory over Sunderland had probably taken as much out of him as it had the 13 men who played in the hard-fought victory.
After another long afternoon of pointing, cajoling and prowling along the touchline, Grant was happy his side had taken three points to hand him a hat-trick of 1-0 victories in his first five league games in charge.
And while he was not necessarily happy with the manner of the performance, particularly in the first half when the home side gave the ball away time after time, the Scot was pleased with the effort and determination.
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“I'm shattered myself,” the City boss said. “Especially the first half, we made it so difficult, so many long balls. I have to take responsibility for putting so many footballers on the pitch, hoping they were going to pass the ball so much better.
“I tried to keep everybody on there who could move the ball quickly. They have three, four giants at the back and we kept playing the ball long, banging it long and it was frustrating in that period.
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“I have to take responsibility for that because I have given them the confidence to go out and pass the ball and maybe put too many footballers on and Sunderland said 'We're not going to allow you to do that'.
“Great credit to them, they put us on the back foot, made it very, very difficult for us and then we made it difficult for ourselves to get the ball back.
“I have got to give all the players credit for the second half. They knew they weren't passing it well but they dug in, showed a steely determination to hang on to that three points against a very, very good side who put us right on the back foot and made it very, very difficult for us.
“We still give the ball so cheaply away. We don't understand how to pass the ball yet, so we need to get much, much better than that. But I will take responsibility because maybe I look at the team and maybe think I am trying to be too clever.”
Grant paid tribute to the performance of man of the match Dion Dublin, who was forced to play at centre-half because of injuries to Gary Doherty and Craig Fleming, leaving his only other defensive option 17-year-old Michael Spillane.
“I thought he was outstanding. But the first half, he gave the ball away - he was banging it long. I was trying to say to him 'Go and make us play, give them that experience', but I can understand his argument in the first 15 minutes.
“In the second half he was colossal for us, his organisation and guiding people round about him. I am delighted to have him around the squad. He is so valuable, not just on the playing side but in everything else as well. He is such a great professional.
“I said to the boys after the game 'Take something from today, learn from the way he played, that determination, the areas of the pitch he picked up in, the backs against the wall attitude'. If they show the character he showed we won't go far wrong.”
“I thought he was magnificent, but I want to be able to utilise him further up the pitch because I think he is a big player for us up there as well.
“I don't want us to lose that because in certain games we are not going to be able to pass it well and we have to have a target player and I want the opportunity to do both.”
But Grant may be forced to keep the former Aston Villa, Leicester and Celtic man in his back four after revealing more bad injury news, with the discovery that Fleming and Doherty could be out until Christmas.
“It could be Christmas,” he said. “Early December, late December, I don't know.
“Doc has got a problem with his back, but things are not looking good for anything less than November, that's for sure - the same with Flem.”
Meanwhile, Grant is continuing to try to get some players in on loan as cover at the weekend amid speculation that West Ham's Carlton Cole and Christian Dailly were seen in Norfolk.
One thing that did not materialise during the game was a touchline battle with Sunderland boss Roy Keane. The former Manchester United star was mostly unmoved during the game and, after the match, his mood was as black as his overcoat.
“I think we deserved something out of the game, but that's the beauty of football I suppose. You don't always get what you deserve,” said Keane. “We have just got to lick our wounds and get ready for next week.
“You have to take your chances. We had one or two half-chances in the first half, one or two half-chances in the second half. It just seems to be going against us at this moment in time.
“I think the determination and the effort was there and at half-time I thought we were maybe comfortable. Obviously that's a dangerous word to use in football. Just when you think you are comfortable you get punished. Of course, as you'd expect, we had a go in the second half but we just lacked that final quality ball, which is the most important in football.”
He was also unhappy with referee Mike Riley after the Leeds official turned down two “decent” penalty claims in the second half, one when substitute Darryl Murphy went down in a tangle with Dublin.
“Decent? I think so - but the referee has made a decision, you just have to get on with it. Murphy feels it definitely was a penalty but the ref has made a decision and we just have to get on with it and accept it,” Keane said.