Green calls for character
CHRIS WISE Robert Green believes his side's home advantage is being eroded away by an edgy atmosphere in the stands. The Canaries may be on an excellent run of form at Carrow Road right now, with Saturday's hard-earned success over Leicester being their fifth victory on the trot.
Norwich City keeper Robert Green believes his side's home advantage is being eroded away by an edgy atmosphere in the stands.
The Canaries may be on an excellent run of form at Carrow Road right now, with Saturday's hard-earned success over Leicester being their fifth victory on the trot.
But the fact remains that a significant number of fans are clearly unhappy with their way the team are playing and many were quick to show their frustration at the weekend, with long periods of near silence being interspersed with occasion bouts of applause, usually of the ironic variety.
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Green fell victim to the gallows humour himself when he received some sarcastic cheers for deciding to play a goal-kick short rather than launching it up field. So he is well aware that is all is not well at Carrow Road, even though City are still managing to rise above the negative vibes to win games on a regular basis.
“These are not easy times,” said the City keeper, who was seen to gesture angrily to supporters in the Norwich and Peterborough Stand after they had made fun of him.
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“To be honest it is not the best atmosphere to play football in at the moment. You notice it almost immediately you come out. Apart from when we are scoring there is not a lot of support out there.
“It's not ideal - but that is the situation.
“It is a case of having strong minds as well as strong bodies at present. We are showing our character by winning games at Carrow Road despite the lack of atmosphere. The football isn't always going to be the prettiest, but that has been the case for most of the season. I don't think we have played three games on the spin where the performances have been really top class and every player has deserved high marks.”
Green clearly accepts that the supporters have had plenty to get edgy about since the club's relegation from the Premiership, and has no intention of criticising the paying customers for giving vent to their frustrations at the end of what has been hugely disappointing campaign.
“It's down to levels of expectation - and we know we haven't reached them this season”, he said.
“The lack of atmosphere is a product of how we have played, I know that. If we had been playing well, and having a successful season, then I am sure the supporters would have been right behind us. But that has not been the case.
“People will give vent to their frustrations in different ways. If they come along and get behind us then fine. If they come along and are not so vocal then that's fine too. It's their way of showing their feelings and they are perfectly entitled to do that, even though it does make for a strange sort of atmosphere.
“There is a lot a disharmony amongst the fans and it's hard to block it out when you are playing. But it's our job and we have got to get on with it. As I said a few weeks ago we would play in front of an empty stadium and still give 100 per cent. We'd still go out there and enjoy the game because we love playing football.”
With City still effectively 12 points off the play-off zone with just five matches left promotion is now just a mathematical possibility, and nothing more than that, but Green insists the City players will still be doing their utmost to put smiles on the faces of the fans between now and the end of the month.
The 26-year-old keeper is determined to pull out all the stops for his club during the run-in - and knows there could be a marvellous spin-off at the end it with the World Cup looming.
“All we can do now is carry on regardless and try and finish with a good run of results,” said England's current No.3 keeper.
“From now on it's about playing for personal pride - and showing people that you do care, that you do want to play football for Norwich City, that you do want to go out and win games.
“Obviously I have also got another personal reason to do well. That would be in the forefront of anybody's mind if they were in my position.
“We'd like to finish as high as possible, that goes without saying, but to be honest if you finish outside the top six in this league you might as well finish anywhere, as long as it is not in the bottom three. We could easily finish as high as seventh - but it would still be a very disappointing season if that's where we ended up.”
With England's goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence watching from the stands, Green did his cause no harm at the weekend, even though the Canaries never really got their act together as a team. He showed that his form was solid as he made a couple of fine saves, including an excellent reflex stop near the end to deny Iain Hume what would have been a deserved equaliser for the visitors.
“I actually had the feeling I was going to keep a clean sheet on Saturday and unfortunately I was wrong, but it is always good to make saves,” he said.
“I don't think it was the best game that has ever been played, that's for sure. Leicester played reasonably well and I think they would have been disappointed not to have come away with anything.
“As regards our own performance there are obviously improvements that need to be made. But it was a big step forward from the previous game at Burnley so in that respect it was reasonably satisfactory.”