Roeder says relegation isn't an issue

Chris Lakey Glenn Roeder rebuilt some bridges with Norwich City fans last night - and insisted that relegation would not become an issue at the end of the season. The City boss came in for criticism after a feisty appearance at the club's annual meeting last month.

Chris Lakey

Glenn Roeder rebuilt some bridges with Norwich City fans last night - and insisted that relegation would not become an issue at the end of the season.

The City boss came in for criticism after a feisty appearance at the club's annual meeting last month.

But last night, in front of a smaller but no less enthusiastic crowd at a fans' forum at Banham, he turned on the charm.


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His mask almost slipped once or twice, but Roeder played a straight bat to all the questions that came his way.

Top of the bill was his liberal use of the loan system - and City's parlous position near the bottom of the Championship table.

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Defeat at Watford on Wednesday has left the Canaries in 20th position, but Roeder insisted he was optimistic about the rest of the campaign.

"I don't believe we are facing relegation," he said. "We are positive and we will come to the end of the season having improved on what happened last year and we will improve again next year."

Roeder had to defend his recruitment policy, but said he believed the majority of his loan deals had worked out, and that all his players were totally committed to the cause, whether they were contracted players or otherwise.

"I wish you could see our dressing room after a game," he said. "They are almost in tears if we have lost.

"Elliott Omozusi loves playing here for Norwich City. He doesn't want to go back to Fulham.

"You have to work hard to get players to come here, but when they get here you can't get rid of them.

"Of course there have been one or two loan players that have not been good enough, but I defy anyone to get them all right. It's not as if there have been one or two coming in, it's been eight or nine."

Roeder also refuted one claim from the floor that the presence of so many loan players was the reason for city's inconsistent form.

"It is too simple to blame the loan players for that," he said.

"I am always on at the players for that and you are always looking for the key."

Roeder finished off his appearance with a simple message calling for patience.

"I need you to understand that I fully understand the responsibility I have to this club," he said. "I don't take that lightly. I want to be here as long as I can and when I eventually get what I want it will be worth having."

Last night's fans' forum was also attended by joint majority shareholder Michael Wynn Jones, chairman Roger Munby, director Michael Foulger, chief executive Neil Doncaster and director of finance and operations Sam Gordon.

Derby day hero Lee Croft labelled City's midweek 2-1 Championship defeat at Watford as 'heartbreaking'.

Croft's second goal in two games proved scant consolation as Hornets' captain Tommy Smith burst the Canaries' Ipswich bubble in a contest dominated by Glenn Roeder's men.

"It's unbelievable," said Croft. "We've done more than enough to win the game. We dominated play and it's demoralising for us after coming off the back of the derby win. We played well and continued the performance from Sunday but have come out with a 2-1 defeat and two poor goals from our point of view. It's heartbreaking really."

"We shot ourselves in the foot. The gaffer just said to us what do we have to do to win games? We come away from home and score goals but conceding two means you've got to score three goals away from home to win a game. In terms of possession and play we have done more than enough I feel, and I'm sure everyone watching felt the same as well."

Croft - recently linked with a clutch of Championship clubs in the January transfer window - insists City must attempt to cash in at title challengers Reading this weekend after slipping back towards the drop zone.

"Obviously the lads are gutted," he told the club's official site. "We've lost a game of football and a great opportunity for us to push on again. We've got halfway there with the performance but what good is that without the three points. We need to keep our heads high and go into the Reading game with that same performance and I'm sure the results will come if we can eradicate those errors at the back."

Croft dragged City level with a sharp header just past the hour mark to cancel out Tamas Priskin's opener.

"It felt great at the time," said the 23-year-old. "It got us back in the game. But it kind of gets cancelled out because we lost the game and that's the main thing.

"It's up to me and Belly (David Bell) on either side to get in the box when the ball comes in from the other side. It was nice to get on the end of it and score a rare header. But as I say the main thing is that we haven't got the three points and that's what we came here for."

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