Robinson: We must not waste this chance
CHRIS LAKEY Carl Robinson believes Norwich City must not waste the opportunity to become the team that everyone fears as the Championship reaches it hectic final stages.
Carl Robinson believes Norwich City must not waste the opportunity to become the team that everyone fears as the Championship reaches it hectic final stages.
Taking four points from their last two games against teams in the top three has rekindled hopes of a play-off spot - a suggestion that would have been ridiculed just a few weeks ago.
Saturday's win over Sheffield United made it four wins, two draws and a defeat since that horrendous no-show against derby rivals Ipswich at Carrow Road.
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But with the finishing line in sight, Robinson insists City must not let standards slip or they will be gobbled up by a whole host of play-off wannabes.
“We are on a decent run, but that run will only count for something if we can get where we want to, and that's in the play-offs,” said the Canaries midfielder. “There is always one team that comes from the pack - everyone is saying about Wolves or Cardiff, but we firmly believe we can do it.”
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Promotion via the play-offs is still a long shot, but Robinson reckons on one team a year coming out of the pack to grab the glory - and says City are that team.
Current form suggests he has a point, with just the dreadful display at Crystal Palace earlier this month ruining a recent run that otherwise includes four wins and two draws since Ipswich raided Carrow Road on February 5.
It's form Robinson believes can put the frighteners on a few other teams in the hunt.
“They will be looking over their shoulders at us, but we are not concerned about them,” he said. “It's important that we carry on our good form. We are looking more solid, which is important and we are learning to fight and scrap.
“This league is horrible - there are a lot of quality teams, but if you can't do the battling side and the fighting side of it then sometimes you can get rolled over.
“People have seen in the last two games two very psychical teams. If I am being honest I don't think they are better football teams than us, but maybe they have been more physical throughout the season. In the last two games we have matched that and the football has taken care of itself.”
The example Norwich need to follow is that of Crystal Palace, who stormed to promotion via the play-offs two years ago with a 12-game run that saw them take 25 out of 36 points.
It's a challenge Robinson believes the Canaries have the ability to meet.
“The hard work starts now, there are seven games to go,” said Robinson. “We are taking each game as it comes. We took Leeds on that game, we took Sheffield United on that game, and we have Burnley on Friday and we will be working all week on that game.
“There are a lot of twists and turns still to come but the bigger men will be counted at the end of the season.”
Robinson was a key figure in Saturday's 2-1 win over second-placed Sheffield United - a result which, given the change of atmosphere at Carrow Road following the recent public shows of discontent by some supporters, could provide a platform for a late charge.
“We have to make sure now that we build on these last two results and performances, because up until the Palace game, we'd done well,” he said.
Robinson had arguably his best game in a City shirt since turning his loan move from Sunderland into a permanent transfer in January, with shades of Gary Holt at his best as he prowled the edge of City's penalty area protecting his defence.
“We sat in the changing room at half-time very positive,” said Robinson. “We thought at 2-1 up we could go on and win it more comfortably, but we had to make sure the back door was shut. We have had a problem or two conceding goals as a team and we have worked very hard on that in the last couple of weeks and it showed, with the last-ditch challenges, players diving in and winning tackles when they shouldn't, winning headers when they shouldn't.”
Robinson's part in that upset referee Paul Taylor a time or two, leaving the Welshman in a delicate situation.
“Once or twice I was penalised unfairly by the referee,” he said. “I had to try and keep it cool with the ref because you don't want refs turning against you in a game like that. It was high intensity, it was a high quality game as well.
“You had Mr Warnock in the ref's ear all the time so it's important that the players keep a cool head and keep on the ref's side and we had to do that.
“But it was pleasing because we mixed it - two weeks ago at Palace I think we rolled over too easily, the players were the first to admit that.
“The manager told the players in no uncertain terms, and he needed to. At the end of the day it wasn't the manager, it was the players. We looked in the mirror, went to Leeds last week and performed admirably, should have won the game, didn't win, disappointed, but then we followed it through with a good win against Sheffield.”