Relegation closer than a play-off place

CHRIS LAKEY The dreaded R word - relegation - reared its ugly head as the realism of Saturday's defeat by Plymouth Argyle hit home.


The dreaded R word - relegation - reared its ugly head as the realism of Saturday's defeat by Plymouth Argyle hit home.

The Canaries are in 17th place in the Championship, but getting closer and closer to the drop zone. It's now 10 points to the final play-off spot - and only eight to the third relegation place.

“It worries you, no doubt about that, because you have to win games, that's the name of the game,” said manager Peter Grant.

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“If you think you are mentally weak now, wait until you get pulled into that.

“That's when the big men have got to stand up and be strong. A lot of other clubs have been there more than these players and if I was them I'd be trying to make sure you get results so you don't get sucked into that.

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“We are making it very, very difficult for ourselves and they know they have to perform.”

There were few excuses against Argyle, with Grant admitting City were lucky to be a goal up through Youssef safris' free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

“I thought we were fortunate to go in 1-0 up at half-time,” he admitted. “I thought we'd maybe get a wee lift from that because I thought we were poor in the first half - and in the second half we were even worse. We got progressively worse and worse.

“You get to a stage in the game when you think, 'oh well, it's going okay, we've started to get in there. We're not playing well, but we are creating wee bits of chances here and there'.

“We should have been 2-0 up. Huckerby should have rolled the ball across the goal, 2-0, that's game over. They go up the pitch and get a corner and score from it and you think to yourself, okay. The next thing we get another attack, come back out, go to ground at the edge of the box, give a free-kick away, same thing happens.

“You prepare all week with set plays, the preparation that goes into it - similar to the Southampton game - and you lose a goal you do it quite incredible, but to lose two beggars belief.”

Barry Hayles pulled one back for Argyle almost on the hour mark, but then two near identical free-kicks by Akos Buzsaky in the space of 12 minutes - perfectly executed on his part - sealed the points for the visitors.

“I know Doc (Gary Doherty) went to ground but every time you go to ground there is always a chance you are going to give a free kick away and we have said that,” said Grant. “It more frustrates me that the ball is in the net twice from the save area. God forgive me for saying it, but Stevie Wonder could have seen where the ball was going because that's what we prepared for all bloody week.

“You have seen me writing at the side of the pitch and if I go through the book, open the book, when we have done well we have done the fundamentals well, when we have done poorly I can go into every single thing and point to the same thing, and that beggars belief for me because you are telling them day in day out, week in week out, what is the difference between being a successful team and a team that wins nothing, one that achieves nothing. Unfortunately for us too many times we seem a team that won't achieve anything because they're weak.

“It frustrates you because there is a hell of a lot of work goes into it during the week with the preparation and I can hear the supporters on the side of the pitch and they are right because I am looking on the pitch and thinking what the hell have we done all week in training?

“You take somebody off because you think the way we're passing you'd better get the ball forward early because we keep giving the ball away cheaply, players are running into areas that they have absolutely no chance of receiving the ball, absolutely no chance, but they think, 'I'll run on here because it will look as if I am doing good work here', but they are actually running away from the ball, they are not helping their team-mates.

“It is easy to want the ball when you are winning, that's the easiest time to play in the world, but when things are tough can you still win the ball, can you still make that pass, are you willing to make that mistake? And we just never had enough of that today. It's alright people blaming everybody else, but they will need to look at theirselves.

“Too much work goes into it, too much preparation goes into it to legislate for the things that happened on the pitch today and when they happen we don't give ourselves a chance with performances like that.”

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