Roeder wants to boost away points tally
David Cuffley Manager Glenn Roeder believes Norwich City must average much more than one point per match away from home if they are to challenge for a top six spot in the Championship.
Manager Glenn Roeder believes Norwich City must average much more than one point per match away from home if they are to challenge for a top six spot in the Championship.
After taking four points from trips to Cardiff and Plymouth, the Canaries have the chance of further plunder on their travels when they take on two of the bottom three sides in the division in the space of four days.
City visit bottom club Barnsley tomorrow (3pm) and Southampton on Tuesday night, both fixtures they won last season after Roeder's arrival as boss.
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But they collected just 19 points from 23 away games in 2007-08, and Roeder knows that is nowhere near enough.
The lowest away points haul from a top six side last season was 28 by Bristol City, while sixth-placed Watford claimed a mightily impressive 39 points with 10 wins and nine draws.
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Said Roeder: “A point a match away from home is a minimum requirement, and the target has to be higher if you're expecting to be in the play-offs.
“I would have said a point a game would be for a team just above halfway, in that ninth, 10th, 11th slot, even 12th.
“It was a real problem for Ipswich last year - they had a great home record but a very, very average away record and there's no doubt it cost them the opportunity of gaining promotion last season.
“The teams that win automatic promotion have fantastic away records.”
As 11th-placed City go to Oakwell - wearing their all black away strip for the first time - Roeder stressed the importance of maintaining a gap over the struggling teams, even at this early stage of the season.
He said: “The league is starting to take a little bit of shape and from where we are now we want to climb higher. If we're playing teams below us, it means we certainly don't want to be losing to those teams.
“Both games we set out to try to win, but it's very, very important we don't lose either game because they're both below us at the moment.”
Centre-back Dejan Stefanovic has recovered from a calf injury, while midfielder Matty Pattison and on-loan striker Arturo Lupoli, both substituted in the win over Sheffield United with hamstring trouble, should recover, handing the manager some tough selection decisions.
“They've got decent chances of being fit, so we'll look at them today,” said Roeder.
“We didn't think they were that bad anyway, but once you've got any sort of hamstring problem you can't possibly continue to play because it's an explosive muscle. We got them off in time before they've done more damage, which is always important. I hope both will be available for selection tomorrow - they've definitely got a good chance. Stefanovic will be fine.”
Despite his optimism, Roeder said it was too soon to make predictions about the long season ahead.
He said: “It's still very early days in terms of the players getting to know each other. I'm actually pleasantly surprised how well they have gelled because the performances, apart from against Queens Park Rangers, have been good enough to pick up more points, but the signs are promising.
“I just hope as a team and a squad that we continue to grow in a positive way that gives us the encouragement over the next few months to believe that we can be there at the end of the season.
“But it's too far ahead to be thinking of things like that, otherwise football has a nasty habit of tripping you up for not taking notice of what's in front of you, which is always the next game.”