Relegation not even on Roeder’s radar
Chris Lakey Glenn Roeder refused to discuss the possibility of relegation as Norwich City faced up to one of the most crucial weekends in recent history. “I won't even talk about that,” said Roeder after City's 2-1 home defeat by Championship leaders West Brom meant they must beat QPR next weekend to avoid a nerve-racking finale to the season at Hillsborough.
Glenn Roeder refused to discuss the possibility of relegation as Norwich City faced up to one of the most crucial weekends in recent history.
“I won't even talk about that,” said Roeder after City's 2-1 home defeat by Championship leaders West Brom meant they must beat QPR next weekend to avoid a nerve-racking finale to the season at Hillsborough.
But Roeder is setting no targets for the next two games.
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“All I'm thinking about is beating QPR next week,” he said. “That's what I'm focusing on. Focusing on anything else is pointless.
“You will want to build the pressure more than we will and I understand that, that's the nature of the business we are in, but we will remain ice cold and we will stay calm and we will work hard in training and we will come out and hopefully play as well as we have done today - but win the game.”
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The table doesn't lie - and it shows that if City don't beat QPR and other results go against them they could be in dire straits when they travel to fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday on May 4.
“I haven't even looked at that,” insisted Roeder. “I have only thought about one thing and that's beating QPR next week, then we will have a look at it. We are getting to the end of the season, you get mad results now. My only focus with the players this week will be winning our last home game of the season.
“If we play like we did today and create the same number of chances you just hope, fingers crossed, that they go in next week. But we have shown in the second half of the season against the best teams that we can more than compete with them and at times play better than them - but if you don't stick the ball in the back of the net you don't win games of football.”
It was the season-long problem of missed chances that cost Norwich at the weekend.
The Canaries went behind inside two minutes and survived an early onslaught by the Championship leaders only to need a Ched Evans penalty to give them hope two minutes after the Baggies had doubled their lead.
But Evans' 73rd-minute spot-kick was the only time City really made visiting keeper Dean Kiely work, much to Roeder's frustration.
“If you don't take your chances you don't win games of football,” he said.
“We know it has been a major problem this year. It is not as if we are not making chances; that's the thing I find most frustrating. We played some quality football against the team that deserves to be top of the table, but they know they have been in a game today and I think they have got to feel quite fortunate that we have missed so many good chances to allow them to take all three points.
“I thought once we got through the first 15 minutes - we were so slow starters - we eventually got back into the game. We finished the first half the better team and got on top and missed a glorious chance to equalise just before half-time.
“We come out and rip into them - the first 12 minutes of the second half we have four great chances not just to equalise but to have won the game, but we didn't take those chances.
“I think we have competed very well with the best team in the Championship - in fact at times I think we were much the better team.”
Robert Koren put the Baggies ahead with less than two minutes on the clock, and Roeder - facing an FA charge for his comments on referee Andy D'Urso after the match at Bristol City last month - chose his words carefully when suggesting the goal might well have been disallowed for a foul on keeper David Marshall by Roman Bednar.
“He had both hands on it and didn't manage to retain the ball in both hands,” said Roeder. “It was a dodgy situation those few seconds before - it looked like they might have scored, and then he got both hands on the ball and I immediately looked up the pitch thinking, 'he's going to pick the ball up, who can he hit quickly?' and the next time I look back it's in the back of the net.
“When I've seen what has happened it is a poor goal.”
The performance was a marked improvement on Ipswich the previous weekend, but the manner of defeat hurt as much.
“It is so frustrating, it is painful,” admitted Roeder. “We lost 2-1 at Ipswich, we let ourselves down, we let the supporters down, it could have been more than 2-1, we got off lightly.
“Yet we come out here today against the best team in the Championship - they have got the best squad of players, the most talented squad of players, they deserve to be where they are in the table - yet we should have won the game. It is so frustrating.
“We have two more games to go but that sums up our season.”
Roeder recalled Gary Doherty at the centre of his defence in place of Alex Pearce, and raised a few eyebrows by dropping midfielder Darel Russel, with Kieran Gibbs coming into the right midfield berth and Matty Pattison retaining his central role.
“I don't think he (Russell) has been at his best recently and it wouldn't do him any harm sitting one out,” said Roeder. “We will see how everyone trains this week and then we'll make a decision on the starting line-up for next Saturday.”