Norwich City’s Martin - Eight games can change our lives
Russell Martin feels the Norwich City squad is ready for eight “life- changing” games and will not lose focus on their promotion goal – because it is all they can think about.
The Canaries resume Championship hostilities on Saturday after the international break in second spot, with eight fixtures to secure a second successive promotion and a dream ticket to the riches of the Premier League.
For a side that was playing in League One less than 12 months ago, the rise would be one of the greatest achievements in the club’s long history – and Martin knows what it will take for City to finish the job they have started.
“It takes a certain amount of mental strength, that’s for sure, focus and players – good players – and the fans behind us, and the manager, and the belief we have got and momentum we have had for the last year really, which is unbelievable,” said Martin.
“Belief and focus gets you there and the lads are not thinking about anything else at the minute. Everything else in your social life, your family life and everything, is put on the back burner because it’s six weeks that could change the rest of your lives.
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“That’s how big it is. The gaffer has said it’s life-changing. For the fans, for us, it’s where you want to be. It’s the best league in Europe, if not the world, and we are totally 100 per cent focused in trying achieve that.”
Fellow promotion contenders Nottingham Forest, Swansea and Cardiff have all had wobbles after threatening to take the second automatic promotion place by the scruff of the neck – but with Paul Lambert’s Norwich ahead of the third-placed Swans by a single point, former Peterborough full-back Martin is confident City can hold their nerve. “I think maybe teams have put a certain amount of pressure on themselves but we haven’t, not at any time in the season; we’ve never said we were going to go and get second and try to hang on to it,” he said.
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“As far as we are concerned, every step we’ve gone we are chasing someone in front of us and that is still the same.
“If you start looking over your shoulder at any point, that’s when it starts to affect you.
“But the gaffer has been like that from day one, last year and this year. You never look over your shoulder because then a few nerves creep in.
“We have always gone for the team above us and invariably we’ve chased them down.
“It’s going to be a bit harder this time with QPR, but while we are there we’ll keep going and keep trying to grind out results and hopefully it will get us where we want to go.”
Last year’s feel-good factor should also help City’s cause, one which has been to the fore since last season and continues to play its part, according to Martin.
“Around the city I think the boys have all noticed it this year,” he said. “They have been great, the following. Even the one up at Hull. Everywhere is a journey from Norfolk, but it’s unbelievable the good feeling you get from fans in and around the city when you are just walking about town or out and about, having some food. Even at the games.
“It makes you want to play for the club, it really does.
And all the boys that have come here, the new lads have fitted in straight away and realised how big it is to play for a club like this with the fan base we have got.
“The boys have taken to it really well and they cope with the pressure really well. People expect us to do things but we have created that pressure ourselves, so we enjoy it and hopefully they’ll carry on supporting us until the end of the season because it’s a massive thing.”