Roeder: I can't criticise players

DAVID CUFFLEY Manager Glenn Roeder defended his Norwich City players to the hilt after a second successive home draw extended their unbeaten run to six Championship matches.


Manager Glenn Roeder defended his Norwich City players to the hilt after a second successive home draw extended their unbeaten run to six Championship matches.

Roeder said a dip in performance was inevitable after the sterling effort that had taken the Canaries out of the relegation zone, but still felt they could have beaten Wolves, instead having to settle for a 1-1 draw.

He said: “On the last 20 minutes of the second half, yes, because although we didn't have the lion's share of the play for certainly the first 70 minutes or so, this is such a beautiful game football that we had the better chances in the end.

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“We had excellent chances and could have won the game, but I certainly have to accept that we have to settle for a point rather than the three.

“I was expecting at some stage, probably sooner rather than later, and hopefully we have got it out of the way today, a performance where we weren't the better team for large parts of the game.

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“These players have done so well for the last two months I think if we are not careful people will forget where we were two months ago, with eight points.

“The boys have put a real shift in to climb to where we are and gather the amount of points we have done by the end of the year. It would be totally wrong if anyone was critical of them.

“We didn't play well but no one can accuse them of not putting everything into the performance and that is all you can ask for at times.

“On Boxing Day we were outstanding. We wiped Charlton away, other than take our chances to win the game. Today I will be the first to admit if you take the 90 minutes of the whole game we weren't the better team. Wolves played some very good football, but quite honestly if you look on clear-cut chances, absolute clear chances, we had probably one or two more than they had, for all their possession.”

City end 2007 on 27 points from 25 games, and are fifth from bottom of the Championship as they head for Crystal Palace tomorrow, but it's a huge improvement on nine points from 16 matches - the situation they found themselves in after a 3-0 defeat at Plymouth in Roeder's third game in charge.

“No, they are not machines. You can't expect them to keep churning out the performances like they have done over the last couple of months,” said Roeder.

“We have lost one in nine - a last-minute winner against a Stoke team who are flying at the moment. I think it is a tremendous effort by the players. You won't find me criticising them.

“That performance I expected to come sooner or later. Hopefully they've got it out of their systems because we've got a tremendous game on New Year's Day at Palace.”

Roeder said goalscorer Jamie Cureton and Dion Dublin were disappointed not to have secured all three points after late chances went begging.

“That's how Jamie's made his name throughout his career, scoring goals, and he's got to continue doing that here for the rest of the season. He's very disappointed he hasn't scored more than one goal - very disappointed,” he said.

“Dion's very upset. He had, to all intents and purposes, a penalty kick, better than a penalty kick. The ball sat up on the volley to just smash the ball home and, as well as you can say the goalkeeper made a great save, Dion said 'I hit it straight at him'.”

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