Robbo can be answer to Earnie's prayers
Carl Robinson is promising to get the very best out of new boy Rob Earnshaw as Norwich City's hopes of stealing a last-gasp place in the play-offs hang by a mathematical thread.
Midfielder Carl Robinson is promising to get the very best out of new boy Rob Earnshaw as Norwich City's hopes of stealing a last-gasp place in the play-offs hang by a mathematical thread.
Saturday's comfortable 2-0 win over Derby County left City nine points off sixth-placed Preston North End. With 33 points still to play for, in theory the Canaries could - just - force their way into the final reckoning.
In practice, however, the fact that the Lilywhites have two games in hand on Norwich, who have still to travel to three out of the four teams currently in the play-off places, suggests this recent rally may all prove too little, too late.
Robinson, however, is not about to take no for an answer and with his Welsh international pal Earnshaw leading the line alongside the in-form Darren Huckerby, hope springs eternal - particularly after Saturday's clash with the Rams proved that City's £2.75 million signing is more than willing to roll his sleeves up and run his socks off in the City cause.
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“Earnie does work hard,” said Robinson, after goals from Jonatan Johansson and a magnificent solo strike from Huckerby seven minutes from time rewarded the long-suffering City faithful for their patience.
“Everyone thinks that Earnie's game is just about goals, but there is another side to the game - and you've got to do the other side,” said Robinson. “And I thought he did that brilliantly today.”
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If he doesn't, a big Robinson boot lies in wait.
“I know Earnie well and I know how to get the best out of him,” said Robinson. “And maybe we'll fall out on the way, but then I'll always buy him a beer in the bar afterwards!”
Robinson, on for the injured Andy Hughes, who injured a hamstring in the middle of an all-action opening half-hour, also offered a big pat on the back for 'keeper Robert Green, who was again at his rock-like best on Saturday. Indeed, he barely had a save of note to make as City reaped the benefit of fielding the same side for the third consecutive game - an unprecedented feat in a season riddled with injuries and international distractions.
“Robert's going to the World Cup - I've got no doubt about that,” said Robinson. “He made a fantastic save last Tuesday night when we were 1-0 up against Brighton and a goal then would have really changed the game. He's the best 'keeper in this league by a mile.”
With Norwich discovering a new defensive assuredness to match the frightening threat that an in-form Huckerby and a hard-working Earnshaw pose, the Canaries can head for South London next weekend with form and fortune finally on their side. Rams caretaker boss Terry Westley - one-time manager of Diss Town - left Norfolk impressed.
“I'm not ruling them out of the promotion race just yet,” said the Derby chief. “It wouldn't surprise me at all if they went on a run of seven straight wins, or something like that, to push themselves right back into it.”
Westley's opposite number was not ruling anything out.
“There is a little bit of work to be done, we know that,” said City boss Nigel Worthington.
“All we can do is keep our heads down, keep working hard and build on the great week that we've had. There are 33 points to play for and we will try and get as many of those as we can and see where it leaves us.”
At least Saturday's result and better performance left relations between team, manager and supporters in a ruder state of health than in the midst of last Tuesday night's 3-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion. Doubts and misgivings, no doubt, continue to simmer away just beneath the surface after what has clearly been a difficult and disappointing season for all concerned, but at least Saturday's atmosphere suggested that a small degree of togetherness was returning.
“Tuesday night was not a pleasant situation,” said Worthington. “When your team is winning and people are booing their own players it is not nice.
“But it is something that happens in football and for us to move forward as a club we could do without it - it's as simple as that.
“I think there were a lot of true supporters out there today who knew the situation, got behind their football club and helped us to our victory.
“Regardless of who the players are, who the manager is, you are a lot stronger if you are all together. We have proved that in the past and we will prove it again in the future.”