Reality check for Grant

Peter Grant believes the quality exists in the Norwich City dressing room to write off the first 45 minutes at the Britannia Stadium as a painful learning exercise.


Peter Grant believes the quality exists in the Norwich City dressing room to write off the first 45 minutes at the Britannia Stadium as a painful learning exercise.

The City boss was at a loss to explain what happened between 3pm and 3.45pm, when City, short of key players and struggling with the demands of a new playing system, allowed their hosts to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

“It's a bit of a reality to check to say the least,” he said. “It's probably an understatement to say I was seething at half-time because exactly how we'd prepared for the match was exactly what happened. Players didn't do their jobs, didn't understand their jobs, which is very, very disappointing, because the preparation went into it.

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“I asked the players individually, because I think it is better asking them than telling them, do they understand it, did they understand what we went through on the training field, did they understand the preparation that went into it.

“It worries me a little bit that they can't take it on when the game starts.

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“They have got to take it on the chin. It was disappointing today, but we will learn from it, we will move on and win the next one, that is what we have got to have in your mind, nothing else.”

“I hope that is a one off - we will dust ourselves down tonight and tomorrow. It's a difficult weekend for us all, but we know we are much better, that's the thing. We know we are much better than that and I'd be worried if I looked about our dressing room and thought we were lacking quality players.

“You learn something new about them every day, every day in life I learn something new about them, whether they are good, bad or indifferent, but we have a lot of good players here and we have to remember that.”

Grant was forced to juggle his meagre resources and play a different system, with Gary Doherty pushed out of defence in a holding midfield role and Dion Dublin alone up front. The instructions, Grant said, had been made clear on the training fields of Colney, but senses there may still be a hangover from the shocking run of form in September when the Canaries defence leaked goals.

“There is an underbelly there which I am not going to accept because I said to the players I want to play with no fear at any time,” he said. “First half they looked as if they played with a little bit of fear, hoping things would happen instead of making them happen, and that disappoints me.

“The second half, for the first 25 minutes or whatever was exactly what I said we should have done in the first.”

Grant's selection choices were restricted by injuries and fitness problems.

“Dion and Peter Thorne could not have played from the start because Thorne is just back in training,” he said. “Dion was excellent for us, he led and he tried and for 90 minutes he worked his socks off, I thought he was a great example to the team. He understood what we were all about, but he never got that backing in the first period.

“Second period up to the penalty I thought we could still win the game. If they had done it in the first half we could have been sitting here talking about three points and victory and going back down the road saying we'd done okay. Instead of that it gives you food for thought.”

The formation caused a few raised eyebrows, but Grant to blame the changes for City's collapse.

“I was expecting five of them (midfielders) to go on with Dion,” he said. “I wanted one sitting midfield player to make sure we were organised, everybody else on the front foot, getting in the box, getting crosses in and that disappointed me because we kept turning the ball over yet again. We never got that pass in to get a cross in, we never got that pass in to get people round about the box. All the things we spoke about we didn't get in the first half.

“If it was the easy way I'd blame the system, no problem, but with the players we had available that shouldn't have been a problem whatsoever.

“We could not get a foothold in the first half because we made so many bad choices and so many wrong decisions in that period, which never allowed us to go and express ourselves in the opposition's half.”

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