Norwich hero shares fans' frustration
Super sub Darel Russell rode to the rescue for Norwich City with a second-half header that saw the Canaries share the spoils with Blackpool at Carrow Road.
Darel Russell was the hero of the hour after rescuing a deserved point for City - but admits he's just as frustrated as the man in the stands as they wait for the Canaries to move into top gear.
Russell has had to settle for a role as makeshift striker, having been knocked down the pecking order by Glenn Roeder's summer signings.
And he came up trumps on Saturday just when City needed him most - having seen Blackpool go ahead from the penalty spot.
It was City's first goal of the season and earned them their first point - but Russell admits his current role is frustrating.
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“Who wouldn't be? Even when I was suspended last year and not playing, it drives me crazy,” he said.
“I hate watching football because it means I'm not out there playing. I just enjoy being out there on the pitch. I want to be out there starting, that's my main aim.
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“Fans sit and watch and it must frustrate them at times - everyone wants to be out there trying their best and helping the team to push forward.”
If Roeder's target man hasn't arrived in time for next Saturday's difficult trip to Cardiff, then Russell could be in line for a starting role up front: it's one he accepts, with reservations.
“If I had to start there it wouldn't be a problem for me,” he said. “I think I can do a job, but I don't want to be judged as a forward.
“I'm trying to stake a claim for my position, the position I favour. I played as a kid up front and the reason I switched to midfield was that I got bored at times - there can be games where it is not going for you. I like to be in the middle of the game where I am involved, whether it be defending or attacking and that's why I enjoy playing in the centre of midfield, it's more for the enjoyment factor.”
Russell now has to convince Roeder he is worth a midfield start, but won't be hammering on his office door.
“No, my actions I do out on the field, I don't need to do that,” he said. “I think perhaps when I was younger you knock on doors, you rant and rave, but I think as you get older you can see situations how they are. You've probably been there and done it before and I just work from experience and I make my movements from how I see things pan out. All I can do is go out there and perform as I perform and hopefully that is good enough to get myself in the team.
“It is not good enough at the minute because I'm not out there. When it is good enough I'll be in the starting line-up, so hopefully I'm doing things in the right direction that will put me in the starting line-up. If you're sitting on the bench it's because you're not doing something to put yourself in front of other players. That's how I see the situation.”
Frustrating as his situation may be, Russell had plenty of consolation with his goal. “It's nice to be in that vein of form at this minute in time,” said Russell, who bagged a quality double in the final pre-season friendly, against Colchester a fortnight ago.
“I've had aims this season to try and get myself to 10 goals, so we have nine more to go and hopefully we can get to that figure sooner rather than later.
“It was there for me - unfortunately I probably left a bit of an elbow in the back of the guy's head when I put it in there but I had to protect myself, and if I am seeing those opportunities I am going to want to try and put them in. And like everybody else you've got to just want to put that ball in the back of the net and be confident at doing it.
“Lucky for me things have fallen well for me over the last few weeks in terms of being in the right positions and actually getting them in the back of the net, so if this can continue for the rest of the season I'd be really pleased.”
After Ben Burgess opened the scoring from the penalty spot on 55 minutes, Russell headed home from close range on 74 minutes after a Wes Hoolahan's corner.
Delight at breaking City's scoring duck was tempered by the reality that it was two points dropped rather than one gained.
“Before the game we were coming out here to get three points,” Russell said. “We were favourites for the game and these are teams we'd consider we need to beat. When we consider we were 1-0 down, getting that point now is probably a point gained from that view - but from before the game we definitely wanted three points.”